Abaft the Funnel

Rudyard Kipling


"The old cat's tumbled down the ventilator, sir, and he's swearing away

under the furnace-door in the stoke-hole," said the second officer to

the Captain of the _Whanghoa_.

"Now what in thunder was Erastasius doing at the mouth of the

ventilator? It's four feet from the ground and painted red at that.

Any of the children been amusing themselves with him, d'you think? I

wouldn't have Erastasius disturbed in his inside for all the gold in

the treasury," said the Captain. "Tell some one to bring him up, and

handle him delicately, for he's not a quiet beast."

In three minutes a bucket appeared on deck. It was covered with a

wooden lid. "Think he have make die this time," said the Chinese sailor

who carried the coffin, with a grin. "Catchee him topside coals--no

open eye--no spit--no sclatchee my. Have got bucket, allee same, and

make tight. See!"

He dived his bare arm under the lid, but withdrew it with a yell,

dropping the bucket at the same time. "Hya! Can do. Maskee dlop

down--masky spilum coal. Have catchee my light there."

Blood was trickling from his elbow. He moved aft, while the bucket,

mysteriously worked by hidden force, trundled to and fro across the

decks, swearing aloud.

Emerged finally Erastasius, tom-cat and grandfather-in-chief of the

_Whanghoa_--a gaunt brindled beast, lacking one ear, with every hair on

his body armed and erect. He was patched with coal-dust, very stiff and

sore all over, and very anxious to take the world into his confidence

as to his wrongs. For this reason he did not run when he was clear of

the bucket, but sitting on his hunkers regarded the Captain, as who

would say: "You hold a master's certificate and call yourself a seaman,

and yet you allow this sort of thing on your boat."

"Guess I must apologise, old man," said the Captain gravely. "Those

ventilators are a little too broad in the beam for a passenger of your

build. What made you walk down it? Not a rat, eh? You're too well fed

to trouble of rats. Drink was it."

Erastasius turned his back on the Captain. He was a tailless Japanese

cat, and the abruptness of his termination gave him a specially brusque


"Shouldn't wonder if the old man hasn't been stealing something and

was getting away from the galley. He's the biggest reprobate that ever

shipped--and that's saying something. No, he isn't my property exactly.

I've got a notion that he owns the ship. Gathered that from the way he

goes round after six bells to see the lights out. The chief engineer

says he built the engines. Anyway, the old man sits in the engine-room

and sort of keeps an eye on the boilers. He was on the ship before I

joined her--that's seven years ago, when we were running up and down

and around and about the China Seas."

Erastasius, his back to the company, was busied in cleaning his

disarranged fur. He licked and swore alternately. The ventilator

incident had hurt his feelings sorely.

"He knows we are talking about him," continued the Captain. "He's a

responsible kind o' critter. That's natural when you come to think that

he has saved a quarter of a million of dollars. At present his wants

are few--guess he would like a netting over those ventilators first

thing--but some day he'll begin to live up to his capital."

"Saved a quarter of a million dollars! What securities did he invest

'em in?" said a man from Foochow.

"Here, in this bottom. He saved the _Whanghoa_ with a full cargo of

tea, silk and opium, and thirteen thousand dollars in bar silver.

Yes; that's about the extent of the old man's savings. I commanded.

The old man was the rescuer, and I was more grateful to him 'cause

it was my darned folly that nearly brought us into the trouble. I was

new to these waters, new to the Chinaman and his fascinating little

ways, being a New England man by raising. Erastasius was raised by the

Devil. That's who his sire was. Never ran across his dam. Ran across a

forsaken sea, though, in the _Whanghoa_, a little to the northeast of

this, with eight hundred steerage passengers, all Chinamen, for various

and undenominated ports. Had the pleasure of sending eighteen of 'em

into the water. Yes, that's so, isn't it, old man?"

Erastasius finished licking himself and mewed affirmatively.

"Yes, we carried four white officers--a Westerner, two Vermont men, and

myself. There were ten Americans, a couple of Danes and a half-caste

knocking round the ship, and the crew were Chinese, but most of 'em

good Chinese. Only good Chinese I ever met. We had our steerage

passengers 'tween-decks. Most of 'em lay around and played dominoes or

smoked opium. We had bad weather at the start, and the steerage were

powerful sick. I judged they would have no insides to them when the

weather lifted, so I didn't put any guards on them. Wanted all my men

to work the ship. Engines rotten as Congress, and under sail half the

time. Next time I carry Chinese steerage trash I'll hire a Gatling and

mount it on the 'tween-decks hatch.

"We were fooling about between islands--about a hundred and fifty

thousand islands all wrapped up in fog. When the fog laid the wind,

the engines broke down. One of the passengers--we carried no ladies

that journey--came to me one evening. 'I calculate there's a conspiracy

'tween-decks,' he said. 'Those pigtails are talking together. No good

ever came of pigtails talking. I'm from 'Frisco. I authoritate on

these matters.' 'Not on this ship,' I said: 'I've no use for duplicate

authority.' 'You'll be homesick after nine this time to-morrow,' he

said and quit. I guess he told the other passengers his notions.

"Erastasius shared my cabin in general. I didn't care to dispute

with a cat that went heeled the way he did. That particular night

when I came down he was not inclined for repose. When I shut the door

he scrabbled till I let him out. When he was out he scrabbled to

come back. When he was back, he jumped all round the shanty yowling.

I stroked him, and the sparks irrigated his back as if 'twas the

smoke-stack of a river steamer. 'I'll get you a wife, old man,' I

said, 'next voyage. It is no good for you to be alone with me.'

'_Whoopee, yoopee-yaw-aw-aw_,' said Erastasius. 'Let me get out of

this.' I looked him square between the eyes to fix the place where

I'd come down with a boot-heel (he was getting monotonous), and as I

looked I saw the animal was just possessed with deadly fear--human

fear--crawling, shaking fear. It crept out of the green of his eyes

and crept over me in billowing waves--each wave colder than the last.

'Unburden your mind, Erastasius,' I said. 'What's going to happen?'

'_Wheepee-yeepee-ya-ya-ya-woop!_' said Erastasius, backing to the door

and scratching.

"I quit my cabin sweating big drops, and somehow my hand shut on my

six-shooter. The grip of the handle soothes a man when he is afraid. I

heard the whole ship 'tween-decks rustling under me like all the woods

of Maine when the wind's up. The lamp over the 'tween-decks was out.

The steerage watchman was lying on the ground, and the whole hive of

Celestials were on the tramp--soft-footed hounds. A lantern came down

the alley-way. Behind it was the passenger that had spoken to me, and

all the rest of the crowd, except the half-caste.

"'Are you homesick any now?' said my passenger. The 'tween-decks woke

up with a yell at the light, and some one fired up the hatch-way.

Then we began our share of the fun--the ten passengers and I. Eleven

six-shooters. That cleared the first rush of the pigtails, but we

continued firing on principle, working our way down the steps. No one

came down from the spar-deck to assist, though I heard considerable of

a trampling. The pigtails below were growling like cats. I heard the

lookout man shout, 'Junk on the port bow,' and the bell ring in the

engine-room for full speed ahead. Then we struck something, and there

was a yell inside and outside the ship that would have lifted your

hair out. When the outside yell stopped, our pigtails were on their

faces. 'Run down a junk,' said my passenger--'_their_ junk.' He loosed

three shots into the steerage on the strength of it. I went up on deck

when things were quiet below. Some one had run our Dahlgren signal-gun

forward and pointed it to the break of the fo'c'sle. There was the

balance of a war junk--three spars and a head or two on the water, and

the first mate keeping his watch in regular style.

"'What is your share?' he said. 'We've smashed up a junk that tried to

foul us. Seems to have affected the feelings of your friends below.

Guess they wanted to make connection.' 'It is made,' said I, 'on the

Glassy Sea. Where's the watch?' 'In the fo'c'sle. The half-caste is

sitting on the signal-gun smoking his cigar. The watch are speculatin'

whether he'll stick the business-end of it in the touch-hole or

continue smoking. I gather that gun is not empty.' 'Send 'em down below

to wash decks. Tell the quartermaster to go through their boxes while

they are away. They may have implements.'

"The watch went below to clean things up. There were eighteen stiff

uns and fourteen with holes through their systems. Some died, some

survived. I did not keep particular count. The balance I roped up, and

it employed most of our spare rigging. When we touched port there was a

picnic among the hangmen. Seems that Erastasius had been yowling down

the cabins all night before he came to me, and kept the passengers

alive. The man that spoke to me said the old man's eyes were awful

to look at. He was dying to tell his fear, but couldn't. When the

passengers came forward with the light, the half-caste quit for topside

and got the quartermaster to load the signal-gun with handspikes and

bring it forward in case the fo'c'sle wished to assist in the row.

That was the best half-caste I ever met. But the fo'c'sle didn't

assist. They were sick. So were the men below--horror-sick. That was

the way the old man saved the _Whanghoa_."


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


_And No Man May Answer for the Soul of His Brother_

It was two in the morning, and Epstin's Dive was almost empty, when

a Thing staggered down the steps that led to that horrible place and

fawned on me disgustingly for the price of a drink. "I'm dying of

thirst," he said, but his tone was not that of a street loafer. There

is a freemasonry, the freemasonry of the public schools, stronger than

any that the Craft knows. The Thing drank whisky raw, which in itself

is not calculated to slake thirst, and I waited at its side because

I knew, by virtue of the one sentence above recorded, that it once

belonged to my caste. Indeed, so small is the world when one begins

to travel round it, that, for aught I knew, I might even have met

the Thing in that menagerie of carefully-trained wild beasts, Decent

Society. And the Thing drank more whisky ere the flood-gates of its

speech were loosed and spoke of the wonderful story of its fall.

Never man, he said, had suffered more than he, or for slighter sin.

Whereat I winked beerily into the bottom of my empty glass, having

heard that tale before. I think the Thing had been long divided

from all social and moral restraint--even longer from the wholesome

influence of soap and water.

"What I feel most down here," said It, and by "down here" I presume he

meant the Inferno of his own wretchedness, "is the difficulty about

getting a bath. A man can always catch a free lunch at any of the

bars in the city, if he has money enough to buy a drink with, and you

can sleep out for six or eight months of the year without harm, but

San Francisco doesn't run to free baths. It's not an amusing life any

way you look at it. I'm more or less used to things, but it hurts me

even now to meet a decent man who knows something of life in the old

country. I was raised at Harrow--Harrow, if you please--and I'm not

five-and-twenty yet, and I haven't got a penny, and I haven't got a

friend, and there is nothing in creation that I can command except a

drink, and I have to beg for that. Have you ever begged for a drink?

It hurts at first, but you get used to it. My father's a parson. I

don't think he knows I beg drink. He lives near Salisbury. Do you know

Salisbury at all? And then there's my mother, too. But I have not heard

from either of them for a couple of years. They think I'm in a real

estate office in Washington Territory, coining money hand over fist.

If ever you run across them--I suppose you will some day--there's the

address. Tell them that you've seen me, and that I am well and fit.

Understand?--well and fit. I guess I'll be dead by the time you see

'em. That's hard. Men oughtn't to die at five-and-twenty--of drink.

Say, were you ever mashed on a girl? Not one of these you see, girls

out here, but an English one--the sort of girl one meets at the

Vicarage tennis-party, don't you know. A girl of our own set. I don't

mean mashed exactly, but dead, clean gone, head over ears; and worse

than that I was once, and I fancy I took the thing pretty much as I

take liquor now. I didn't know when to stop. It didn't seem to me

that there was any reason for stopping in affairs of that kind. I'm

quite sure there's no reason for stopping half-way with liquor. Go the

whole hog and die. It's all right, though--I'm not going to get drunk

here. Five in the morning will suit me just as well, and I haven't the

chance of talking to one of you fellows often. So you cut about in fine

clothes, do you, and take your drinks at the best bars and put up at

the Palace? All Englishmen do. Well, here's luck; you may be what I

am one of these days. You'll find companions quite as well raised as


       *       *       *       *       *

"But about this girl. Don't do what I did. I fell in love with her. She

lived near us in Salisbury; that was when I had a clean shirt every day

and hired horses to ride. One of the guineas I spent on that amusement

would keep me for a week here. But about this girl. I don't think some

men ought to be allowed to fall in love any more than they ought to be

allowed to taste whisky. She said she cared for me. Used to say that

about a thousand times a day, with a kiss in between. I think about

those things now, and they make me nearly as drunk as the whisky does.

Do you know anything about that love-making business? I stole a copy

of Cleopatra off a book-stall in Kearney Street, and that priest-chap

says a very true thing about it. You can't stop when it's once started,

and when it's all over you can't give it up at the word of command. I

forget the precise language. That girl cared for me. I'd give something

if she could see me now. She doesn't like men without collars and odd

boots and somebody else's hat; but anyhow she made me what I am, and

some day she'll know it. I came out here two years ago to a real estate

office; my father bought me some sort of a place in the firm. We were

all Englishmen, but we were about a match for an average Yankee; but I

forgot to tell you I was engaged to the girl before I came out. Never

you make a woman swear oaths of eternal constancy. She'll break every

one of them as soon as her mind changes, and call you unjust for making

her swear them. I worked enough for five men in my first year. I got

a little house and lot in Tacoma fit for any woman. I never drank, I

hardly ever smoked, I sold real estate all day, and wrote letters at

night. She wrote letters, too, about as full of affection as they make

'em. You can tell nothing from a woman's letter, though. If they want

to hide anything, they just double the 'dears' and 'darlings,' and then

giggle when the man fancies himself deceived.

"I don't suppose I was worse off than hundreds of others, but it seems

to me that she might have had the grace to let me down easily. She

went and got married. I don't suppose she knew exactly what she was

doing, because I got the letters just the same six weeks after she was

married! It was an odd copy of an English paper that showed me what had

happened. It came in on the same day as one of her letters, telling me

she would be true to the gates of death. Sounds like a novel, doesn't

it? But it did not amuse me in the least. I wasn't constructed to pitch

the letters into the fire and pick up with a Yankee girl. I wrote her a

letter; I rather wish I could remember what was in that letter. Then I

went to a bar in Tacoma and had some whisky, about a gallon, I suppose.

If I had anything approaching to a word of honour about me, I would

give it you that I did not know what happened until I was told that my

partnership with the firm had been dissolved, and that the house and

lot did not belong to me any more. I would have left the firm and sold

the house, anyhow, but the crash sobered me for about three days. Then

I started another jamboree. I might have got back after the first one,

and been a prominent citizen, but the second bust settled matters. Then

I began to slide on the downgrade straight off, and here I am now.

I could write you a book about what I have come through, if I could

remember it. The worst of it is I can see that she wasn't worth losing

anything in life for, but I've lost just everything, and I'm like the

priest-chap in Cleopatra--I can't get over what I remember. If she had

let me down easy, and given me warning, I should have been awfully cut

up for a time, but I should have pulled through. She didn't do that,

though. She lied to me all along, and married a curate, and I dare say

she'll be a virtuous she-vicar later on; but the little affair broke me

dead, and if I had more whisky in me I should be blubbering like a calf

all round this Dive. That would have disgusted you, wouldn't it?"

"Yes," said I.


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


It was pyjama time on the _Madura_ in the Bay of Bengal, and the

incense of the very early morning cigar went up to the stainless skies.

Every one knows pyjama time--the long hour that follows the removal

of the beds from the saloon skylight and the consumption of _chota

hazri_. Most men know, too, that the choicest stories of many seas

may be picked up then--from the long-winded histories of the Colonial

sheep-master to the crisp anecdotes of the Californian; from tales of

battle, murder and sudden death told by the Burmah-returned subaltern,

to the bland drivel of the globe-trotter. The Captain, tastefully

attired in pale pink, sat up on the signal-gun and tossed the husk of a

banana overboard.

"It looked in through my cabin-window," said he, "and scared me nearly

into a fit." We had just been talking about a monkey who appeared to

a man in an omnibus, and haunted him till he cut his own throat. The

apparition, amid howls of incredulity, was said to have been the result

of excessive tea-drinking. The Captain's apparition promised to be


"It was a menagerie--a whole turnout, lock, stock, and barrel, from the

big bear to the little hippopotamus; and you can guess the size of it

from the fact that they paid us a thousand pounds in freight only. We

got them all accommodated somewhere forward among the deck passengers,

and they whooped up terribly all along the ship for two or three days.

Among other things, such as panthers and leopards, there were sixteen

giraffes, and we moored 'em fore and aft as securely as might be; but

you can't get a purchase on a giraffe somehow. He slopes back too much

from the bows to the stern. We were running up the Red Sea, I think,

and the menagerie fairly quiet. One night I went to my cabin not

feeling well. About midnight I was waked by something breathing on my

face. I was quite calm and collected, for I had got it into my head

that it was one of the panthers, or at least the bear; and I reached

back to the rack behind me for a revolver. Then the head began to slide

against my cabin--all across it--and I said to myself: 'It's the big

python.' But I looked into its eyes--they were beautiful eyes--and saw

it was one of the giraffes. Tell you, though, a giraffe has the eyes of

a sorrowful nun, and this creature was just brimming over with liquid

tenderness. The seven-foot neck rather spoilt the effect, but I'll

always recollect those eyes."

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


"No; I remembered that it was darn valuable, and I didn't want to lose

freight on it. I was afraid it would break its neck drawing its head

out of my window--I had a big deck cabin, of course--so I shoved it out

softly like a hen, and the head slid out, with those Mary Magdalene

eyes following me to the last. Then I heard the quartermaster calling

on heaven and earth for his lost giraffe, and then the row began all

up and down the decks. The giraffe had sense enough to duck its head to

avoid the awnings--we were awned from bow to stern--but it clattered

about like a sick cow, the quartermaster jumping after it, and it

swinging its long neck like a flail. 'Catch it, and hold it!' said the

quartermaster. 'Catch a typhoon,' said I. 'She's going overboard.' The

spotted fool had heaved one foot over the stern railings and was trying

to get the other to follow. It was so happy at getting its head into

the open I thought it would have crowed--I don't know whether giraffes

crow, but it heaved up its neck for all the world like a crowing cock.

'Come back to your stable,' yelled the quartermaster, grabbing hold of

the brute's tail.

"I was nearly helpless with laughing, though I knew if the concern

went over it would be no laughing matter for me. Well, by good luck

she came round--the quartermaster was a strong man at a rope's end.

First of all she slewed her neck round, and I could see those tender,

loving eyes under the stars sort of saying: 'Cruel man! What are you

doing to my tail?' Then the foot came on board, and she bumped herself

up under the awning, looking ready to cry with disappointment. The

funniest thing was she didn't make any noise--a pig would ha' roused

the ship in no time--only every time she dropped her foot on the deck

it was like firing a revolver, the hoofs clicked so. We headed her

towards the bows, back to her moorings--just like a policeman showing

a short-sighted old woman over a crossing. The quartermaster sweated

and panted and swore, but she never said anything--only whacked her

old head despairingly against the awning and the funnel case. Her feet

woke up the whole ship, and by the time we had her fairly moored fore

and aft the population in their night-gear were giving us advice. Then

we took up a yard or two in all the moorings and turned in. No other

animal got loose that voyage, though the old lady looked at me most

reproachfully every time I came that way, and 'You've blasted my young

and tender innocence' was the expression of her eyes. It was all the

quartermaster's fault for hauling her tail. I wonder she didn't kick

him open. Well, of course, that isn't much of a yarn, but I remember

once, in the city of Venice, we had a Malayan tapir loose on the deck,

and we had to lasso him. It was this way":

"_Guzl thyar hai_," said the steward, and I fled down the companion and

missed the tale of the tapir.


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


The man from Manila held the floor. "Much care had made him very lean

and pale and hollow-eyed." Added to which he smoked the cigars of his

own country, and they were bad for the constitution. He foisted his

Stinkadores Magnificosas and his Cuspidores Imperiallissimos upon all

who would accept them, and wondered that the recipients of his bounty

turned away and were sad. "There is nothing," said he, "like a Manila

cigar." And the pink pyjamas and blue pyjamas and the spotted green

pyjamas, all fluttering gracefully in the morning breeze, vowed that

there was not and never would be.

"Do the Spaniards smoke these vile brands to any extent?" asked the

Young Gentleman travelling for Pleasure as he inspected a fresh box of

Oysters of the East. "Smoke 'em!" said the man from Manila; "they do

nothing else day and night." "Ah!" said the Young Gentleman travelling

for Pleasure, in the low voice of one who has received mortal injury,

"that accounts for the administration of the country being what it is.

After a man has tried a couple of these things he would be ready for

any crime."

The man from Manila took no heed of the insult. "I knew a case once,"

said he, "when a cigar saved a man from the sin of burglary and landed

him in quod for five years." "Was he trying to kill the man who gave

him the cigar?" said the Young Gentleman travelling for Pleasure. "No,

it was this way: My firm's godowns stand close to a creek. That is to

say, the creek washes one face of them, and there are a few things

in those godowns that might be useful to a man, such as piece-goods

and cotton prints--perhaps five thousand dollars' worth. I happened

to be walking through the place one day when, for a miracle, I was

not smoking. That was two years ago." "Great Cæsar! then he has been

smoking ever since!" murmured the Young Gentleman travelling for


"Was not smoking," continued the man from Manila. "I had no business in

the godowns. They were a short cut to my house. When half-way through

them I fancied I saw a little curl of smoke rising from behind one of

the bales. We stack our bales on low saddles, much as ricks are stacked

in England. My first notion was to yell. I object to fire in godowns on

principle. It is expensive, whatever the insurance may do. Luckily I

sniffed before I shouted, and I sniffed good tobacco smoke." "And this

was in Manila, you say?" interrupted the Young Gentleman travelling for


"Yes, in the only place in the world where you get good tobacco. I knew

we had no bales of the weed in stock, and I suspected that a man who

got behind print bales to finish his cigar might be worth looking up. I

walked between the bales till I reached the smoke. It was coming from

the ground under one of the saddles. That's enough, I thought, and I

went away to get a couple of the Guarda Civile--policemen, in fact. I

knew if there was anything to be extracted from my friend the bobbies

would do it. A Spanish policeman carries in the day-time nothing more

than a six-shooter and _machete_, a dirk. At night he adorns himself

with a repeating rifle, which he fires on the slightest provocation.

Well, when the policemen arrived, they poked my friend out of his

hiding-place with their dirks, hauled him out by the hair, and kicked

him round the godown once or twice, just to let him know that he had

been discovered. They then began to question him, and under gentle

pressure--I thought he would be pulped into a jelly, but a Spanish

policeman always knows when to leave off--he made a clean breast of the

whole business. He was part of a gang, and was to lie in the godown all

that night. At twelve o'clock a boat manned by his confederates was to

drop down the creek and halt under the godown windows, while he was

to hand out our bales. That was their little plan. He had lain there

about three hours, and then he began to smoke. I don't think he noticed

what he was doing: smoking is just like breathing to a Spaniard. He

could not understand how he had betrayed himself and wanted to know

whether he had left a leg sticking out under the saddles. Then the

Guarda Civile lambasted him all over again for trifling with the

majesty of the law, and removed him after full confession.

"I put one of my own men under a saddle with instructions to hand out

print bales to anybody who might ask for them in the course of the

night. Meantime the police made their own arrangements, which were very


"At midnight a lumbering old barge, big enough to hold about a hundred

bales, came down the creek and pulled up under the godown windows,

exactly as if she had been one of my own barges. The eight ruffians

in her whistled all the national airs of Manila as a signal to the

confederate, then cooling his heels in the lock-up. But my man was

ready. He opened the window and held quite a long confab with these

second-hand pirates. They were all half-breeds and Roman Catholics,

and the way they called upon all the blessed saints to assist them in

their work was edifying. My man began tilting out the bales quite as

quickly as the confederate would have done. Only he stopped to giggle

now and again, and they spat and swore at him like cats. That made him

worse, and at last he dropped yelling with laughter over the half door

of the godown goods window. Then one boat came up stream and another

down stream, and caught the barge stem and stern. Four Guarda Civiles

were in each boat; consequently, eight repeating rifles were pointed

at the barge, which was very nicely loaded with our bales. The pirates

called on the saints more fluently than ever, threw up their hands, and

threw themselves on their stomachs. That was the safest attitude, and

it gave them the chance of cursing their luck, the barge, the godown,

the Guarda Civile, and every saint in the calendar. They cursed the

saints most, for the Guarda Civile thumped 'em when their remarks

became too personal. We made them put all the bales back again. Then

they were handed over to justice and got five years apiece. If they had

any dollars they would get out the next day. If they hadn't, they would

serve their full time and no ticket-of-leave allowed. That's the whole


"And the only case on record," said the Young Gentleman travelling for

Pleasure, "where a Manila cigar was of any use to any one." The man

from Manila lit a fresh Cuspidore and went down to his bath.


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


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

play, in fact."

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


"_The Red Lamp._"


Conversation ceased, and there was an industrious sucking of cheroots

for the space of half an hour before the company adjourned to the

card-room. It was decidedly a night for sleeping on deck--warm as the

Red Sea and more moist than Bengal. Unfortunately, every square foot

of the deck seemed to be occupied by earlier comers, and in despair I

removed myself to the extreme fo'c'sle, where the anchor-chains churn

rust-dyed water from the hawseholes and the lascars walk about with


The throb of the engines reached this part of the world as a muffled

breathing which might be easily mistaken for the snoring of the

ship's cow. Occasionally one of the fowls in the coops waked and

cheeped dismally as she thought of to-morrow's entrées in the saloon,

but otherwise all was very, very still, for the hour was two in the

morning, when the crew of a ship are not disposed to be lively. None

came to bear me company save the bo'sun's pet kittens, and they were

impolite. From where I lay I could look over the whole length of

awning, ghostly white in the dark, and by their constant fluttering

judged that the ship was pitching considerably. The fo'c'sle swung up

and down like an uneasy hydraulic lift, and a few showers of spray

found their passage through the hawseholes from time to time.

Have you ever felt that maddening sense of incompetence which follows

on watching the work of another man's office? The civilian is at

home among his despatch-boxes and files of pending cases. "How in

the world does he do it?" asks the military man. The budding officer

can arrange for the movements of two hundred men across country.

"Incomprehensible!" says the civilian. And so it is with all alien

employs from our own. So it was with me. I knew that I was lying among

all the materials out of which Clark Russell builds his books of the

sea--the rush through the night, the gouts of foam, the singing of the

wind in the rigging overhead, and the black mystery of the water--but

for the life of me I could make nothing of them all.

 "A topsail royal flying free

 A bit of canvas was to me,

 And it was nothing more."

"Oh, that a man should have but one poor little life and one incomplete

set of experiences to crowd into it!" I sighed as the bells of the ship

lulled me to sleep and the lookout man crooned a dreary song.

I slept far into the night, for the clouds gathered over the sky, the

stars died out, and all grew as black as pitch. But we never slackened

speed; we beat the foam to left and right with clanking of chains,

rattling of bow-ports, and savage noises of ripping and rending from

the cut-water ploughing up to the luminous sea-beasts. I was roused by

the words of the man in the smoking-room: "A strong situation, sir,

very strong--quite the strongest in the play, in fact--_The Red Lamp_,

y' know."

I thought over the sentence lazily for a time, and then--surely there

was a red lamp in the air somewhere--an intolerable glare that singed

the shut eyelids. I opened my eyes and looked forward. The lascar was

asleep, his face bowed on his knees, though he ought to have been

roused by the hum of a rapidly approaching city, by the noises of men

and women talking and laughing and drinking. I could hear it not half a

mile away: it was strange that his ears should be closed.

The night was so black that one could hardly breathe; and yet where

did the glare from the red lamp come from? Not from our ship: she was

silent and asleep--the officers on the bridge were asleep; there was

no one of four hundred souls awake but myself. And the glare of the

red lamp went up to the zenith. Small wonder. A quarter of a mile in

front of us rolled a big steamer under full steam, and she was heading

down on us without a word of warning. Would the lookout man never look

out? Would their crew be as fast asleep as ours? It was impossible, for

the other ship hummed with populous noises, and there was the defiant

tinkle of a piano rising above all. She should have altered her course,

or blown a fog-horn.

I held my breath while an eternity went by, counted out by the

throbbing of my heart and the engines. I knew that it was my duty

to call, but I knew also that no one could hear me. Moreover, I was

intensely interested in the approaching catastrophe; interested, you

will understand, as one whom it did in no wise concern. By the light

of the luminous sea thrown forward in sheets under the forefoot of

the advancing steamer I could discern the minutest details of her

structure from cat-head to bridge. Abaft the bridge she was crowded

with merrymakers--seemed to be, in fact, a P. & O. vessel given up to a

ball. I wondered as I leaned over the bulwarks what they would say when

the crash came--whether they would shriek very loudly--whether the men

and women would try to rush to our decks, or whether we would rush on

to theirs. It would not matter in the least, for at the speed we were

driving both vessels would go down together locked through the deeps

of the sea. It occurred to me then that the sea would be cold, and

that instead of choking decently I might be one in a mad rush for the

boats--might be crippled by a falling spar or wrenched plate and left

on the heeling decks to die. Then Terror came to me--Fear, gross and

overwhelming as the bulk of the night--Despair unrelieved by a single

ray of hope.

We were not fifty yards apart when the passengers on the stranger

caught sight of us and shrieked aloud. I saw a man pick up his child

from one of the benches and futilely attempt to climb the rigging. Then

we closed--her name-plate ten feet above ours, looking down into our

forehatch. I heard the grinding as of a hundred querns, the ripping of

the tough bow-plates, and the pistol-like report of displaced rivets

followed by the rush of the sea. We were sinking in mid-ocean.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Beg y' pardon," said the quartermaster, shaking me by the arm, "but

you must have been sleeping in the moonlight for the last two hours,

and that's not good for the eyes. Didn't seem to make you sleep easy,

either." I opened my eyes heavily. My face was swollen and aching, for

on my forehead lay the malignant splendour of the moon. The glare of

the Red Lamp had vanished with the brilliantly-lighted ship, but the

ghastly shrieks of her drowning crew continued.

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

"Pork chops in the saloon to-morrow," said the quartermaster. "The

butcher he got up at four bells to put the old squeaker out of the way.

Them's his dying ejaculations."

I dragged my bedding aft and went to sleep.


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


"I come from San José," he said. "San José, Calaveras County,

California: that's my place." I pricked up my ears at the mention of

Calaveras County. Bret Harte has made that sacred ground.

"Yes?" said I politely. Always be polite to a gentleman from Calaveras

County. For aught you know he may be a lineal descendant of the great

Colonel Starbottle.

"Did you ever know Vermilyea of San Luis Obispo?" continued the

stranger, chewing the plug of meditation.

"No," said I. Heaven alone knows where lies San Luis Obispo, but I was

not going to expose my ignorance. Besides, there might be a story at

the back of it all. "What was the special weakness of Mister Vermilyea?"

"Vermilyea! He weak! Lot Vermilyea never had a weakness that you might

call a weakness until subsequent events transpired. Then that weakness

developed into White Rye. All Westerners drink White Rye. On the

Eastern coast they drink Bourbon. Lot tried both when his heart was

broken. Both--by the quart."

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

"This must be your first trip to the States, sir, or you would

know that Lot's heart was broken by his father-in-law. Lot's

congregation--he took to Religion--always said that he had no business

fooling with a father-in-law. A good many other people said that too.

But I always adhered to Lot. 'Why don't you kill the animal, Lot?' I

used to say. 'I can't. He's the father of my wife,' Lot used to say.

'Loan him money then and settle him on the other side of the States,' I

used to say. 'The old clam won't move,' Lot used to say."

"Half a minute. What was the actual trouble between Vermilyea and his

father-in-law? Did he borrow money?"

"I'm coming to that," said the stranger calmly. "It arrived this way.

Lot had a notion to get married. Some men get that idea. He went to

'Frisco and pawned out his heart--Lot had a most feeling heart, and

that was his ruin--to a girl who lived at back of Kearney Street. I've

forgotten her given name, but the old man's name was Dougherty. Guess

he was a naturalised Irishman. The old man did not see the merits of

Lot when he went sparking after the girl evenings. He fired Lot out off

the stoop three or four times. Lot didn't hit him because he was fond

of the daughter. He just quit like a lamb; the old man welting into him

with anything that came handy--sticks and besoms, and such. Lot endured

that, being a tough man. Every time Lot was fired out he would wait

till the old man was pretty well pumped out. Then he used to turn round

and say, 'When's the wedding to be?' Dougherty used to ramp round Lot

while the girl hid herself till the breeze abated. He had a peculiar

aversion to domiciliary visits from Lot, had Dougherty. I've my own

theory on the subject. I'll explain it later on. At last Dougherty got

tired of Lot and his peacefulness. The girl stuck to him for all she

was worth. Lot never budged. 'If you want to marry her,' said the old

man, 'just drop your long-suffering for half an hour. Stand up to me,

Lot, and we'll run this thing through with our hands.' 'If I must, I

must,' said Lot, and with that they began the argument up and down the

parlour floor. Lot he was fighting for his wife. He set considerable

value on the girl. The old man he was fighting for the fun of the

affair. Lot whipped. He handled the old man tenderly out of regard

for his connections. All the same he fixed him up pretty thoroughly.

When he crawled off the old man he had received his permission to

marry the girl. Old man Dougherty ran round 'Frisco advertising Lot

for the tallest fighter in the town. Lot was a respectable sort of man

and considerable absorbed in preparing for his wedding. It didn't

please him any to receive invitations from the boss fighting men of

'Frisco--professional invitations, you must understand. I guess he

cussed the father-in-law to be.

"When he was married, he concluded to locate in 'Frisco, and started

business there. A married man don't keep his muscle up any. Old man

Dougherty he must have counted on that. By the time Lot's first child

was born he came around suffering for a fight. He painted Lot's house

crimson. Lot endured that. He got a hold of the baby and began yanking

it around by the legs to see if it could squeal worth listening to.

Lot stretched him. Old man howled with delight. Lot couldn't well

hand his father-in-law over to the police, so they had it, knuckle

and tooth, all round the front floor, and the old man he quit by the

window, considerably mashed up. Lot was fair spent, not having kept up

his muscle. My notion is that old man Dougherty being a boss fighter

couldn't get his fighting regularly till Lot married into the family.

Then he reckoned on a running discussion to warm up his bones. Lot was

too fond of his wife to disoblige him. Any man in his senses would have

brought the old man before the courts, or clubbed him, or laid him out

stiff. But Lot was always tender-hearted.

"Soon as old man Dougherty got his senses together off the pavement,

he argued that Lot was considerable less of a fighter than he had

been. That pleased the old man. He was plastered and caulked up by

the doctors, and as soon as he could move he interviewed Lot and made

remarks. Lot didn't much care what he said, but when he came to casting

reflections on the parentage of the baby, Lot shut the office door and

played round for half an hour till the walls glittered like the evening

sun. Old man Dougherty crawled out, but he crowed as he crawled.

'Praise the blessed saints,' he said, 'I kin get my fighting along o'

my meals. Lot, ye have prolonged my life a century.'

"Guess Lot would like to see him dead now. He is an old man, but most

amazing tough. He has been fighting Lot for a matter of three years.

If Lot made a lucky bit of trade, the old man would come along and

fight him for luck. If Lot lost a little, the old man would fight him

to teach him safe speculation. It took all Lot's time to keep even with

him. No man in business can 'tend his business and fight in streaks.

Lot's trade fell off every time he laid himself out to stretch the old

man. Worst of it was that when Lot was made a Deacon of his church, the

old man fought him most terrible for the honour of the Roman Catholic

Church. Lot whipped, of course. He always whipped. Old man Dougherty

went round among the other Deacons and lauded Lot for a boss pugilist,

not meaning to hurt Lot's prospects. Lot had to explain the situation

to the church in general. They accepted it.

"Old man Dougherty he fought on. Age had no effect on him. Lot always

whipped, but nothing would satisfy the old man. Lot shook all his teeth

out till his gums were as bare as a sand-bar. Old man Dougherty came

along lisping his invitation to the dance. They fought.

"When Lot shifted to San Luis Obispo, old man Dougherty he came along

too--craving for his fight. It was cocktails and plug to him. It

grew on him. Lot handled him too gently because of the wife. The old

man could come to the scratch once a month, and always at the most

inconvenient time. They fought.

"Last I heard of Lot he was sinking into the tomb. 'It's not the

fighting,' he said to me. 'It's the darned monotony of the circus. He

knows I can whip him, but he won't rest satisfied. 'Lay him out, Lot,'

said I; 'fracture his cranium or gouge him. This show is foolish all

round.' 'I can't lay him out,' said Lot. 'He's my father-in-law. But

don't it strike you I've a deal to be thankful for? If he had been a

Jew he'd have fought on Sundays when I was doing Deacon. I've been too

gentle with him; the old man knows my spot place, but I've a deal to be

thankful for.'

"Strikes me that thankfulness of Lot's sort is nothing more nor less

than cussed affectation. Say!"

I said nothing.


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


"A little more beef, please," said the fat man with the grey whiskers

and the spattered waistcoat. "You can't eat too much o' good beef--not

even when the prices are going up hoof over hock." And he settled

himself down to load in a fresh cargo.

Now, this is how the fat man had come by his meal. One thousand miles

away, a red Texan steer was preparing to go to bed for the night in the

company of his fellows--myriads of his fellows. From dawn till late

dusk he had loafed across the leagues of grass and grunted savagely as

each mouthful proved to his mind that grass was not what he had known

it in his youth. But the steer was wrong. That summer had brought great

drought to Montana and Northern Dakota. The cattle feed was withering

day by day, and the more prudent stock owners had written to the East

for manufactured provender. Only the little cactus that grows with the

grasses appeared to enjoy itself. The cattle certainly did not; and the

cowboys from the very beginning of spring had used language considered

profane even for the cowboy. What their ponies said has never been

recorded. The ponies had the worst time of all, and at each nightly

camp whispered to each other their longings for the winter, when

they would be turned out on the freezing ranges--galled from wither

to croup, but riderless--thank Heaven, riderless. On these various

miseries the sun looked down impartial. His business was to cake the

ground and ruin the grasses.

The cattle--the acres of huddled cattle--were restless. In the first

place, they were forced to scatter for graze; and in the second, the

heat told on their tempers and made them prod each other with their

long horns. In the heart of the herd you would have thought men were

fighting with single-sticks. On the outskirts, posted at quarter-mile

intervals, sat the cowboys on their ponies, the brims of their hats

tilted over their sun-skinned noses, their feet out of the big

brown-leather hooded stirrups, and their hands gripping the horn of the

heavy saddle to keep themselves from falling on to the ground--asleep.

A cowboy can sleep at full gallop; on the other hand, he can keep

awake also at full gallop for eight and forty hours and wear down six

unamiable bronchos in the process.

Lafe Parmalee; Shwink, the German who could not ride but had a blind

affection for cattle from the branding-yard to the butcher's block;

Michigan, so called because he said he came from California but spoke

not the Californian tongue; Jim from San Diego, to distinguish him

from other Jims, and The Corpse, were the outposts of the herd. The

Corpse had won his name from a statement, made in the fulness of much

McBrayer whisky, that he had once been a graduate of Corpus Christi. He

spoke truth, but to the wrong audience. The inhabitants of the Elite

Saloon, after several attempts to get the hang of the name, dubbed the

speaker The Corpse, and as long as he cinched a broncho or jingled a

spur within four hundred miles of Livingston--yea, far in the south,

even to the unexplored borders of the sheep-eater Indians--he was known

by that unlovely name. How he had passed from college to cattle no man

knew, and, according to the etiquette of the West, no man asked. He was

not by any means a tenderfoot--had no unmanly weakness for washing,

did not in the least object to appearing at the wild and wonderful

reunions held nightly in "Miss Minnie's parlour," whose flaring

advertisement did not in the least disturb the proprieties of Wachoma

Junction, and, in common with his associates, was, when drunk, ready

to shoot at anything or anybody. He was not proud. He had condescended

to take in hand and educate a young and promising Chicago drummer, who

by evil fate had wandered into that wilderness, where all his cunning

was of no account; and from that youth's quivering hand--outstretched

by command--had shot away the top of a wine-glass. The Corpse was

recognised in the freemasonry of the craft as "one of the C.M.R.'s

boys, and tough at that."

The C.M.R. controlled much cattle, and their slaughter-houses in

Chicago bubbled the blood of beeves all day long. Their salt-beef fed

the sailor on the sea, and their iced, best firsts, the housekeeper

in the London suburbs. Not even the firm knew how many cowboys they

employed, but all the firm knew that on the fourteenth day of July

their stockyards at Wachoma Junction were to be filled with two

thousand head of cattle, ready for immediate shipment to Chicago while

prices yet ruled high, and before the grass had withered utterly.

Lafe, Michigan, Jim, The Corpse and the others knew this too, and were

heartily glad of it, because they would be paid up in Chicago for their

half-year's work, and would then do their best towards painting that

town in purest vermilion. They would get drunk; they would gamble, and

would otherwise enjoy themselves till they were broke; and then they

would hire out again.

The sun dropped behind the rolling hills; and the cattle halted for

the night, cheered and cooled by a little wandering breeze. The red

steer's mother had been caught in a hailstorm five years ago. Till she

went the way of all cow-flesh she missed no opportunity of telling her

son to beware of the hot day and the cold wind that does not know its

own mind. "When it blows five ways at once," said she, "and makes your

horns feel creepy, get away, my son. Follow the time-honoured instinct

of our tribe, and run. I ran"--she looked ruefully at the scars on her

side--"but that was in a barb-wire country, and it hurt me. None the

less, run." The red steer chewed his cud, and the little wind out of

the darkness played round his horns--all five ways at once. The cowboys

lifted up their voices in unmelodious song, that the cattle might know

where they were, and began slowly walking round the recumbent herd. "Do

anybody's horns feel creepy?" queried the red steer of his neighbours.

"My mother told me"--and he repeated the tale, to the edification of

the yearlings and the three-year-olds breathing heavily at his side.

The song of the cowboys rose higher. The cattle bowed their heads.

Their men were at hand. They were safe. Something had happened to

the quiet stars. They were dying out one by one, and the wind was

freshening. "Bless my hoofs!" muttered a yearling, "my horns are

beginning to feel creepy." Softly the red steer lifted himself from

the ground. "Come away," quoth he to the yearling. "Come away to the

outskirts, and we'll move. My mother said...." The innocent fool

followed, and a white heifer saw them move. Being a woman she naturally

bellowed "Timber wolves!" and ran forward blindly into a dun steer

dreaming over clover. Followed the thunder of cattle rising to their

feet, and the triple crack of a whip. The little wind had dropped for a

moment, only to fall on the herd with a shriek and a few stinging drops

of hail, that stung as keenly as the whips. The herd broke into a trot,

a canter, and then a mad gallop. Black fear was behind them, black

night in front. They headed into the night, bellowing with terror;

and at their side rode the men with the whips. The ponies grunted as

they felt the raking spurs. They knew that an all-night gallop lay

before them, and woe betide the luckless cayuse that stumbled in that

ride. Then fell the hail--blinding and choking and flogging in one and

the same stroke. The herd opened like a fan. The red steer headed a

contingent he knew not whither. A man with a whip rode at his right

flank. Behind him the lightning showed a field of glimmering horns, and

of muzzles flecked with foam; a field of red terror-strained eyes and

shaggy frontlets. The man looked back also, and his terror was greater

than that of the beasts. The herd had surrounded him in the darkness.

His salvation lay in the legs of _Whisky Peat_--and _Whisky Peat_ knew

it--knew it until an unseen gopher hole received his near forefoot as

he strained every nerve--in the heart of the flying herd, with the red

steer at his flanks. Then, being only over-worked cayuse, _Whisky

Peat_ fell, and the red steer fancied that there was something soft on

the ground.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was Michigan, Jim and Lafe who at last brought the herd to a

standstill as the dawn was breaking, "What's come to The Corpse?" quoth

Lafe. Jim loosened the girths of his quivering pony and made answer

slowly: "Onless I'm a blamed fool, the gentleman is now livin' up to

his durned appellation 'bout fifteen miles back--what there is of him

and the cayuse." "Let's go and look," said Lafe, shuddering slightly,

for the morning air, you must understand, was raw. "Let's go to--a

much hotter place than Texas," responded Jim. "Get the steers to the

Junction first. Guess what's left of The Corpse will keep."

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

belonged to the red steer.


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


_Mere English will not do justice to the event. Let us attempt it

according to the custom of the French. Thus and so following:_

Listen to a history of the most painful--and of the most true.

You others, the Governors, the Lieutenant-Governors, and the

Commissionaires of the Oriental Indias.

It is you, foolishly outside of the truth in prey to illusions so blind

that I of them remain so stupefied--it is to you that I address myself!

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


He was of the Sacred Order of Yourself--a man responsible

enormously--charged of the conservation of millions....

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


He was the well-loved of kings. I have seen the Viceroy--which is the

Lorr-Maire--embrace him of both arms.

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

Even embraces.

His wife! Mon Dieu, his wife!

The aheuried imagination prostrates itself at the remembrance of the

splendours Orientals of the Lady Cyril--the very respectable the Lady


That was in Simla. All things are possible in Simla. Even wives. In

those days I was--what you call--a Schnobb. I am now a much larger

Schnobb. _Voila_ the only difference. Thus it is true that travel

expands the mind.

But let us return to our Wollobies.

I admired that man there with the both hands. I crawled before the

Lady Wollobie--platonically. The man the most brave would be only

platonic towards that lady. And I was also afraid. Subsequently I

went to a dance. The wine equalled not the splendour of the Wollobies.

Nor the food. But there was upon the floor an open space--large and

park-like. It protected the dignity Wollobi-callisme. It was guarded by

Aides-de-Camp. With blue silk in their coat-tails--turned up. With pink

eyes and white moustaches to ravish. Also turned up.

To me addressed himself an Aide-de-Camp.

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

I confine myself exclusively to the cab-drivaire. He does not know so

much bad language, but he can drive better.

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

of Sir Wollobie.

The world entire regarded.

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

It was an inspiring moment.

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

Sir Wollobie spoke.

To me in that expanse of floor cultured and park-like. He said: "I have

long desired to make your acquaintance."

The blood bouilloned in my head. I became pink. I was aneantied under

the weight of an embarras insubrimable.

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

was his custom.

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

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


       *       *       *       *       *

Pass now several years. To the day before yesterday!

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

Know you the Totnam Cortrode?

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


Here voyages also a Omnibuse Proletariat.

That is to say for One penny.

Two pence is the refined volupté of the Aristocrat.

I am of the people.

_Entre nous_ the connection is not desired by us. The people address to

me epithets, entirely unprintable. I reply that they should wash. The

situation is strained. Hence the Strike Docks and the Demonstrations


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

I demand air outside upon the roof.

I will have all my penny.

The tumbril advances.

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

Following the custom of the Brutal Londoner I demand the Devil where he

shoves himself.

He apologises supplicatorically.

I grunt.

Encore the tumbril shakes herself.

I appropriate the desired seat of the old man.

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

He produces one penny.

A reminiscence phantasmal provokes itself.

I beat him on the back.

It is Sir Wollobie; the ex-Everything!

Also the ex-Everything else!

Figure you the situation!

He clasps my hand.

As a child clasps the hand of its nurse.

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

matter important.

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

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

The sacred internals of Sir Wollobie!

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

He is very lonely. He speaks of his wife. There is no Lady Wollobie,

but a woman in a flat in Bayswater who cries in her sleep for more


He does not say this, but I understand.

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


He curses the journals.

He has a clob. He curses that clob.

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

Men of long hair, the psychologues of the paint-pots, correct him

tenderly, but from above.

He has known of the actualities of life--Death, Power, Responsibility,

Honour--the Good accomplished, the effacement of Wrong for forty years.

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

If I do not take him from that.

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

disposed to larmes.

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


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

I am grave. I think upon Lady Wollobie--shorn of chaprassies--at the

Clob. Not in Bayswater.

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

He descends from the tumbril of his humiliation, and the street hawker

rolls a barrow up his waistcoat.

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

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

so chiselled.

Gentlemen the Governors, the Lieutenant-Governors and the Commissaires,

behold the doom prepared.

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


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

it not so?

You will fail. As others failed.

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

I shall be there.

You will embrace me as a shipwrecked man embraces a log. You will be

"dam glad t' see me."

I shall grin.

Oh Life! Oh Death! Oh Power! Oh Toil! Oh Hope! Oh Stars! Oh Honour! Oh

Lodgings! Oh Fog! Oh Omnibuses! Oh Despair! Oh Skittles!


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


As the title indicates, this story deals with the safeness of Griffiths

the safe man, the secure person, the reliable individual, the sort of

man you would bank with. I am proud to write about Griffiths, for I owe

him a pleasant day. This story is dedicated to my friend Griffiths, the

remarkably trustworthy mortal.

In the beginning there were points about Griffiths. He quoted proverbs.

A man who quotes proverbs is confounded by proverbs. He is also

confounded by his friends. But I never confounded Griffiths--not even

in that supreme moment when the sweat stood on his brow in agony and

his teeth were fixed like bayonets and he swore horribly. Even then, I

say, I sat on my own trunk, the trunk that opened, and told Griffiths

that I had always respected him, but never more than at the present

moment. He was so safe, y' know.

Safeness is a matter of no importance to me. If my trunk won't lock

when I jump on it thrice, I strap it up and go on to something else. If

my carpet-bag is too full, I let the tails of shirts and the ends of

ties bubble over and go down the street with the affair. It all comes

right in the end, and if it does not, what is a man that he should

fight against Fate?

But Griffiths is not constructed in that manner. He says: "Safe bind is

safe find." That, rather, is what he used to say. He has seen reason

to alter his views. Everything about Griffiths is safe--entirely safe.

His trunk is locked by two hermetical gun-metal double-end Chubbs;

his bedding-roll opens to a letter padlock capable of two million

combinations; his hat-box has a lever patent safety on it; and the

grief of his life is that he cannot lock up the ribs of his umbrella

safely. If you could get at his soul you would find it ready strapped

up and labelled for heaven. That is Griffiths.

When we went to Japan together, Griffiths kept all his money under lock

and key. I carried mine in my coat-tail pocket. But all Griffiths'

contraptions did not prevent him from spending exactly as much as I

did. You see, when he had worried his way through the big strap, and

the little strap, and the slide-valve, and the spring lock, and the key

that turned twice and a quarter, he felt as though he had earned any

money he found, whereas I could get masses of sinful wealth by merely

pulling out my handkerchief--dollars and five dollars and ten dollars,

all mixed up with the tobacco or flying down the road. They looked much

too pretty to spend.

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

He never really began to lock things up severely till we got our

passports to travel up-country. He took charge of mine for me, on the

ground that I was an imbecile. As you are asked for your passport at

every other shop, all the hotels, most of the places of amusement, and

on the top of each hill, I got to appreciate Griffiths' self-sacrifice.

He would be biting a strap with his teeth or calculating the

combinations of his padlocks among a ring of admiring Japanese while I

went for a walk into the interior.

"Safe bind, safe find," said Griffiths. That was true, because I was

bound to find Griffiths somewhere near his beloved keys and straps.

He never seemed to see that half the pleasure of his trip was being

strapped and keyed out of him.

We never had any serious difficulty about the passports in the whole

course of our wanderings. What I purpose to describe now is merely an

incident of travel. It had no effect on myself, but it nearly broke

Griffiths' heart.

We were travelling from Kyoto to Otsu along a very dusty road full of

pretty girls. Every time I stopped to play with one of them Griffiths

grew impatient. He had telegraphed for rooms at the only hotel in Otsu,

and was afraid that there would be no accommodation. There were only

three rooms in the hotel, and "Safe bind, safe find," said Griffiths.

He was telegraphing ahead for something.

Our hotel was three-quarters Japanese and one-quarter European. If

you walked across it it shook, and if you laughed the roof fell off.

Strange Japanese came in and dined with you, and Jap maidens looked

through the windows of the bathroom while you were bathing.

We had hardly put the luggage down before the proprietor asked for

our passports. He asked me of all people in the world. "I have the

passports," said Griffiths with pride. "They are in the yellow-hide

bag. Turn it very carefully on to the right side, my good man. You

have no such locks in Japan, I'm quite certain." Then he knelt down

and brought out a bunch of keys as big as his fist. You must know that

every Japanese carries a little _belaiti_-made handbag with nickel

fastenings. They take an interest in handbags.

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


The hotel proprietor bowed and smiled very politely for at least five

minutes, Griffiths crawling over and under and round and about his bag

the while. "It's a percussating compensator," said he, half to himself.

"I've never known a percussating compensator do this before." He was

getting heated and red in the face.

"Key stuck, eh? I told you those fooling little spring locks are sure

to go wrong sooner or later."

"Fooling little devils. It's a percussating comp---- There goes

the key. Now it won't move either way. I'll give you the passport

to-morrow. Passport _kul demang manana_--catchee in a little time.

Won't that do for you?"

Griffiths was getting really angry. The proprietor was more polite than

ever. He bowed and left the room. "That's a good little chap," said

Griffiths. "Now we'll settle down and see what the mischief's wrong

with this bag. You catch one end."

"Not in the least," I said. "'Safe bind, safe find.' You did the

binding. How can you expect me to do the finding? I'm an imbecile unfit

to be trusted with a passport, and now I'm going for a walk." The

Japanese are really the politest nation in the world. When the hotel

proprietor returned with a policeman he did not at once thrust the man

on Griffiths' notice. He put him in the verandah and let him clank his

sword gently once or twice.

"Little chap's brought a blacksmith," said Griffiths, but when he saw

the policeman his face became ugly. The policeman came into the room

and tried to assist. Have you ever seen a four-foot policeman in white

cotton gloves and a stand-up collar lunging percussating compensator

look with a five-foot sword? I enjoyed the sight for a few minutes

before I went out to look at Otsu, which is a nice town. No one

hindered me. Griffiths was so completely the head of the firm that had

I set the town on fire he would have been held responsible.

I went to a temple, and a policeman said "passport." I said, "The other

gentleman has got." "Where is other gentleman?" said the policeman,

syllable by syllable, in the Ollendorfian style. "In the ho-tel,"

said I; and he waddled off to catch him. It seemed to me that I could

do a great deal towards cheering Griffiths all alone in his bedroom

with that wicked bad lock, the hotel proprietor, the policeman, the

room-boy, and the girl who helped one to bathe. With this idea I stood

in front of four policemen, and they all asked for my passport and were

all sent to the hotel, syllable by syllable--I mean one by one.

Some soldiers of the 9th N.I. were strolling about the streets, and

they were idle. It is unwise to let a soldier be idle. He may get

drunk. When the fourth policeman said: "Where is other gentleman?" I

said: "In the hotel, and take soldiers--those soldiers."

"How many soldiers?" said the policeman firmly.

"Take all soldiers," I said. There were four files in the street just

then. The policeman spoke to them, and they caught up their big

sword-bayonets, nearly as long as themselves, and waddled after him.

I followed them, but first I bought some sweets and gave one to a

child. That was enough. Long before I had reached the hotel I had a

tail of fifty babies. These I seduced into the long passage that ran

through the house, and then I slid the grating that answers to the big

hall-door. That house was full--pit, boxes and galleries--for Griffiths

had created an audience of his own, and I also had not been idle.

The four files of soldiers and the five policemen were marking time on

the boards of Griffith's room, while the landlord and the landlord's

wife, and the two scullions, and the bath-girl, and the cook-boy, and

the boy who spoke English, and the boy who didn't, and the boy who

tried to, and the cook, filled all the space that wasn't devoted to

babies asking the foreigner for more sweets.

Somewhere in the centre of the mess was Griffiths and a yellow-hide

bag. I don't think he had looked up once since I left, for as he

raised his eyes at my voice I heard him cry: "Good heavens! are they

going to train the guns of the city on me? What's the meaning of the

regiment? I'm a British subject."

"What are you looking for?" I asked.

"The passports--your passports--the double-dyed passports! Oh, give a

man room to use his arms. Get me a hatchet."

"The passports, the passports!" I said. "Have you looked in your

great-coat? It's on the bed, and there's a blue envelope in it that

looks like a passport. You put it there before you left Kyoto."

Griffiths looked. The landlord looked. The landlord took the passport

and bowed. The five policemen bowed and went out one by one; the 9th

N.I. formed fours and went out; the household bowed, and there was a

long silence. Then the bath-girl began to giggle.

When Griffiths wanted to speak to me I was on the other side of the

regiment of children in the passage, and he had time to reflect before

he could work his way through them.

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

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


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


There was no talk of it for a fortnight. We spoke of latitude and

longitude and the proper manufacture of sherry cobblers, while the

steamer cut open a glassy-smooth sea. Then we turned towards China and

drank farewell to the nearer East.

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

"Nobody of ordinary strength of mind ever was it," said the big fat man

with the voice. I kept my eye on the big fat man. He boasted too much.

The China seas are governed neither by wind nor calm. Deep down under

the sapphire waters sits a green and yellow devil who suffers from

indigestion perpetually. When he is unwell he troubles the waters above

with his twistings and writhings. Thus it happens that it is never

calm in the China seas.

The sun was shining brightly when the big fat man with the voice came

up the companion and looked at the horizon.

"Hah!" said he, "calm as ditch water! Now I remember when I was in

the _Florida_ in '80, meeting a tidal-wave that turned us upside down

for five minutes, and most of the people inside out, by Jove!" He

expatiated at length on the heroism displayed by himself when "even the

Captain was down, sir!"

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

The sun continued to shine brightly, and it also kept an eye in the

same direction. I went to the far-off fo'c'sle, where the sheep and the

cow and the bo'sun and the second-class passengers dwell together in

amity. "Bo'sun," said I, "how's her head?"

"Direckly in front of her, sir," replied that ill-mannered soul,

"but we shall be meetin' a head-sea in half an hour that'll put your

head atween of your legs. Go aft an' tell that to them first-class


I went aft, but I said nothing. We went, later, to tiffin, and there

was a fine funereal smell of stale curries and tinned meats in the air.

Conversation was animated, for most of the passengers had been together

for five weeks and had developed two or three promising flirtations.

I was a stranger--a minnow among Tritons--a third man in the cabin.

Only those who have been a third man in the cabin know what this means.

Suddenly and without warning our ship curtsied. It was neither a bob

nor a duck nor a lurch, but a long, sweeping, stately old-fashioned

curtsy. Followed a lull in the conversation. I was distinctly conscious

that I had left my stomach two feet in the air, and waited for the

return roll to join it. "Prettily the old hooper rides, doesn't she?"

said the strong man. "I hope she won't do it often," said the pretty

lady with the changing complexion.

"Wha-hoop! Wha--wha--wha--willy _whoop_!" said the screw, that had

managed to come out of the water and was racing wildly.

"Good heavens! is the ship going down?" said the fat lady, clutching

her own private claret bottle that she might not die athirst. The

ship went down at the word--with a drunken lurch down she went, and a

smothered yell from one of the cabins showed that there was water in

the sea. The portholes closed with a clash, and we rose and fell on

the swell of the bo'sun's head-sea. The conversation died out. Some

complained that the saloon was stuffy, and fled upstairs to the deck.

The strong man brought up the rear.

"Ooshy--ooshy--wooshy--woggle _wop!_" cried a big wave without a head.

"Get up, old girl!" and he smacked the ship most disrespectfully under

the counter, and she squirmed as she took the drift of the next sea.

"She--ah--rides very prettily," repeated the strong man as the

companion stairs spurned him from them and he wound his arms round the

nearest steward.

"Damn prettily," said the necked officer. "I'm going to lie down.

Never could stand the China seas."

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

I took counsel purely with myself, which is to say, my stomach, and

perceived that the worst would not befall me.

"Come to the fo'c'sle, then, and feel the wind," said I to the strong

man. The plover's-egg eyes of three yellowish-green girls were upon him.

"With pleasure," said he, and I bore him away to where the cut-water

was pulling up the scared flying-fishes as a spaniel flushes game. In

front of us was the illimitable blue, lightly ridged by the procession

of the big blind rollers. Up rose the stem till six feet of the red

paint stood clear above the blue--from twenty-three feet to eighteen I

could count as I leaned over. Then the sapphire crashed into splintered

crystal with a musical jar, and the white spray licked the anchor

channels as we drove down and down, sucking at the sea. I kept my eye

upon the strong man, and I noticed that his mouth was slightly open,

the better to inhale the rushing wind. When I looked a second time

he was gone. The driven spray was scarcely quicker in its flight. My

excellent stomach behaved with temperance and chastity. I enjoyed the

fo'c'sle, and my delight was the greater when I reflected on the strong

man. Unless I was much mistaken, he would know all about it in half an


I went aft, and a lull between two waves heard the petulant pop of a

champagne cork. No one drinks champagne after tiffin except.... _It_.

The strong man had ordered the champagne. There were bottles of it

flying about the quarter-deck. The engaged couple were sipping it out

of one glass, but their faces were averted like our parents of old.

They were ashamed.

"You may go! You may go to Hongkong for me!" shouted half-a-dozen

little waves together, pulling the ship several ways at once. She

rolled stately, and from that moment settled down to the work of the

evening. I cannot blame her, for I am sure she did not know her own

strength. It didn't hurt her to be on her side, and play cat-and-mouse,

and puss-in-the corner, and hide-and-seek, but it destroyed the

passengers. One by one they sank into long chairs and gazed at the sky.

But even there the little white moved, and there was not one stable

thing in heaven above or the waters beneath. My virtuous and very

respectable stomach behaved with integrity and resolution. I treated

it to a gin cocktail, which I sucked by the side of the strong man,

who told me in confidence that he had been overcome by the sun at the

fo'c'sle. Sun fever does not make people cold and clammy and blue. I

sat with him and tried to make him talk about the _Florida_ and his

voyages in the past. He evaded me and went down below. Three minutes

later I followed him with a thick cheroot. Into his bunk I went, for I

knew he would be helpless. He was--he was--he was. He wallowed supine,

and I stood in the doorway smoking.

"What is it?" said I.

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


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

       *       *       *       *       *

The rolling continues. The ship is a shambles, and I have six places on

each side of me all to myself.


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


Will the public be good enough to look into this business? It has sent

Crewe to bed, and Mottleby is applying for home leave, and I've lost

my faith in man altogether, and the Club gives it up. Trivey is the

only man who is unaffected by the catastrophe, and he says "I told you

so." We were all proud of Trivey at the Club, and would have crowned

him with wreaths of Bougainvillea had he permitted the liberty. But

Trivey was an austere man. The utmost that he permitted himself to say

was: "I can stretch a little bit when I'm in the humour." We called

him the Monumental Liar. Nothing that the Club offered was too good

for Trivey. He had the soft chair opposite the thermantidote in the

hot weather, and he made up his own four at whist. When visitors came

in--globe-trotters for choice--Trivey used to unmuzzle himself and tell

tales that sent the globe-trotter out of the Club on tiptoe looking for

snakes in his hat and tigers in the compound. Whenever a man from a

strange Club came in Trivey used to call for a whisky and ginger-wine

and rout that man on all points--from horses upward. There was a man

whose nickname was "Ananias," who came from the Prince's Plungers to

look at Trivey; and, though Trivey was only a civilian, the Plunger

man resigned his title to the nickname before eleven o'clock. He made

it over to Trivey on a card, and Trivey hung up the concession in his

quarters. We loved Trivey--all of us; and now we don't love him any


A man from the frontier came in and began to tell tales--some very

good ones, and some better than good. He was an outsider, but he had

a wonderful imagination--for the frontier. He told six stories before

Trivey brought up his first line, and three more before Trivey hurled

his reserves into the fray.

"When I was at Anungaracharlupillay in Madras," said Trivey quietly,

"there was a rogue elephant cutting about the district. And I came

upon him asleep." All the Club stopped talking here, until Trivey had

finished the story. He told us that he, in the company of another

man, had found the rogue asleep, but just as they got up to the

brute's head it woke up with a scream. Then Trivey, who was careful to

explain that he was a "bit powerful about the arms," caught hold of

its ears as it rose, and hung there, kicking the animal in the eyes,

which so bewildered it that it stayed screaming and frightened until

Trivey's ally shot it behind the shoulder, and the villagers ran in

and hamstrung it. It evidently died from loss of blood. Trivey was

hanging on the ears and kicking hard for nearly fifteen minutes. When

the frontier man heard the story he put his hands in front of his

face and sobbed audibly. We gave him all the drinks he wanted, and he

recovered sufficiently to carry away eighty rupees at whist later on;

but his nerve was irretrievably shattered. He will be no use on the

frontier any more. The rest of the Club were very pleased with Trivey,

because these frontier men, and especially the guides, want a great

deal of keeping in order. Trivey was quite modest. He was a truly great

soul, and popular applause never turned his head. As I have said, we

loved Trivey, till that fatal day when Crewe announced that he had

been transferred for a couple of months to Anungaracharlupillay. "Oh!"

said Trivey, "I dare say they'll remember about my rogue elephant down

there. You ask 'em, Crewe." Then we felt sorry for Trivey, because we

were sure that he was arriving at that stage of mental decay when a man

begins to believe in his own fictions. That spoils a man's hand. Crewe

wrote up once or twice to Mottleby, saying that he would bring back a

story that would make our hair curl. Good stories are scarce in Madras,

and we rather scoffed at the announcement. When Crewe returned it was

easy to see that he was bursting with importance. He gave a big dinner

at the Club and invited nearly everybody but Trivey, who went off

after dinner to teach a young subaltern to play "snooker." At coffee

and cheroots, Crewe could not restrain himself any longer. "I say, you

Johnnies, it's all true--every single word of it--and you can throw the

decanter at my head and I'll apologise. The whole village was full of

it. There was a rogue elephant, and it slept, and Trivey did catch hold

of its ears and kick it in the eyes, and hang on for ten minutes, at

least, and all the rest of it. I neglected my regular work to sift that

story, and on my honour the tale's an absolute fact. The headsman said

so, all the shikaries said so, and all the villagers corroborated it.

Now would a whole village volunteer a lie that would do them no good?"

You might have heard a cigar-ash fall after this statement. Then

Mottleby said, with deep disgust: "What can you do with a man like

that? His best and brightest lie, too!" "'Tisn't!" shrieked Crewe.

"It's a fact--a nickel-plated, teak-wood, Tantalus-action, forty-five

rupee fact." "That only makes it worse," said Mottleby; and we all

felt that was true. We ran into the billiard-room to talk to Trivey,

but he said we had put him off his stroke; and that was all the

satisfaction we got out of him. Later on he repeated that he was a "bit

powerful about the arms," and went to bed. We sat up half the night

devising vengeance on Trivey. We were very angry, and there was no hope

of hushing up the tale. The man had taken us in completely, and now

that we've lost our champion Ananias, all the frontier will laugh at

us, and we shall never be able to trust a word that Trivey says.

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


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


 "If seven maids with seven mops

   Swept it for half a year,

 Do you suppose," the Walrus said,

   "That they could sweep it clear?"

Ram Buksh, Aryan, went to bed with his buffalo, five goats, three

children and a wife, because the evening mists were chilly. His hut was

builded on the mud scooped from a green and smelly tank, and there were

microbes in the thin blood of Ram Buksh.

Ram Buksh went to bed on a charpoy stretched across the blue tepid

drain, because the nights were hot; and there were more microbes in

his blood. Then the rains came, and Ram Buksh paddled, mid-thigh deep,

in water for a day or two with his buffaloes till he was aware of a

crampsome feeling at the pit of his stomach. "Mother of my children,"

said Ram Buksh, "this is death." They gave him cardamoms and capsicums,

and gingelly-oil and cloves, and they prayed for him. "It is enough,"

said Ram Buksh, and he twisted himself into a knot and died, and they

burned him slightly--for the wood was damp--and the rest of him floated

down the river, and was caught in an undercurrent at the bank, and

there stayed; and when Imam Din, the Jeweller, drank of the stream five

days later, he drank Lethe, and passed away, crying in vain upon his


His family did not report his death to the Municipality, for they

desired to keep Imam Din with them. Therefore, they buried him under

the flagging in the court-yard, secretly and by night. Twelve days

later, Imam Din had made connection with the well of the house, and

there was typhus among the women in the zenana, but no one knew

anything about it--some died and some did not; and Ari Booj, the

Faquir, added to the interest of the proceedings by joining the

funeral procession and distributing gratis the more malignant forms of

smallpox, from which he was just recovering. He had come all the way

from Delhi, and had slept on no less than fifteen different charpoys;

and that was how they got the smallpox into Bahadurgarh. But Eshmith

Sahib's Dhobi picked it up from Ari Booj when Imam Din's wife was being

buried--for he was a merry man, and sent home a beautiful sample among

the Sunday shirts. So Eshmith Sahib died.

He was only a link in the chain which crawled from the highest to the

lowest. The wonder was not that men died like sheep, but that they

did not die like flies; for their lives and their surroundings, their

deaths, were part of a huge conspiracy against cleanliness. And the

people loved to have it so. They huddled together in frowsy clusters,

while Death mowed his way through them till the scythe blunted against

the unresisting flesh, and he had to get a new one. They died by fever,

tens of thousands in a month; they died by cholera a thousand in a

week; they died of smallpox, scores in the mohulla, and by dysentery by

tens in a house; and when all other deaths failed they laid them down

and died because their hands were too weak to hold on to life.

To and fro stamped the Englishman, who is everlastingly at war with the

scheme of things. "You shall not die," he said, and he decreed that

there should be no more famines. He poured grain down their throats,

and when all failed he went down into the strife and died with them,

swearing, and toiling, and working till the last. He fought the famine

and put it to flight. Then he wiped his forehead, and attacked the

pestilence that walketh in the darkness. Death's scythe swept to and

fro, around and about him; but he only planted his feet more firmly

in the way of it, and fought off Death with a dog-whip. "Live, you

ruffian!" said the Englishman to Ram Buksh as he rode through the

reeking village. "_Jenab!_" said Ram Buksh, "it is as it was in the

days of our fathers!" "Then stand back while I alter it," said the

Englishman; and by force, and cunning, and a brutal disregard of vested

interests, he strove to keep Ram Buksh alive. "Clean your mohullas; pay

for clean water; keep your streets swept; and see that your food is

sound, or I'll make your life a burden to you," said the Englishman.

Sometimes he died; but more often Ram Buksh went down, and the

Englishman regarded each death as a personal insult.

"Softly, there!" said the Government of India. "You're twisting his

tail. You mustn't do that. The spread of education forbids, and Ram

Buksh is an intelligent voter. Let him work out his own salvation."

"H'm!" said the Englishman with his head in a midden; "collectively you

always were a fool. Here, Ram Buksh, the Sirkar says you are to do all

these things for yourself."

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


Curiously enough, it was in the centres of enlightenment that he

prosecuted his experiments most energetically. The education had been

spread, but so thinly that it could not disguise Ram Buksh's natural

instincts. He created an African village, and said it was the hub of

the universe, and all the dirt of all the roads failed to convince

him that he was not the most advanced person in the world. There was

a pause, and Ram Buksh got himself fearfully entangled among Boards

and Committees, but he valued them as a bower-bird values shells and

red rags. "See!" said the Englishman to the Government of India,

"he is blind on that side--blind by birth, training, instinct and

associations. Five-sixths of him is poor stock raised off poor soil,

and he'll die on the least provocation. You've no right to let him kill


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

"I'll concede everything," said the Englishman. "He's a statesman,

author, poet, politician, artist, and all else that you wish him to

be, but he isn't a Sanitary Engineer. And while you're training him

he is dying. Goodness knows that my share in the Government is very

limited nowadays, but I'm willing to do all the work while he gets all

the credit if you'll only let me have some authority over him in his

mud-pie making."

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


"I haven't any," said the Englishman. "He can trail through my

compounds; start shrines in the public roads; poison my family; have

me in court for nothing; ruin my character; spend my money, and call

me an assassin when all is done. I don't object. Let me look after his


"But the days of a paternal Government are over; we must depend on the

people. Think of what they would say at home," said the Government of

India. "We have issued a resolution--indeed we have!"

The Englishman sat down and groaned. "I believe you'll issue a

resolution some day notifying your own abolition," said he. "What are

you going to do?"

"Constitute more Boards," said the Government of India. "Boards of

Control and Supervision--Fund Boards--all sorts of Boards. Nothing

like system. It will be at work in three years or so. We haven't any

money, but that's a detail."

The Englishman looked at the resolution and sniffed. "It doesn't touch

the weak point of the country."

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

Government of India.

"I used to," said the Englishman. "I was the District Officer, and I

twisted their tails. You have taken away my power, and now----"

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


"Never mind me," said the Englishman. "I'm an effete relic of the past.

But Ram Buksh will die, as he used to do."

And now we all wait to see which is right.


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


Thank Heaven he is dead! The municipality sent a cart and a man only

this morning, and, all the servants aiding with ropes and tackle, the

carcase of Tiglath was borne away--a wobbling lump. His head was thrust

over the tailboard of the cart. Upon it was stamped an expression of

horror and surprise, unutterable and grotesque. I have put away my

rifle, I have cheered my heart with wine, and I sit down now to write

the story of Tiglath, the Utter Brute. His own kind, alas! will not

read it, and thus it will be shorn of instruction; but owners will

kindly take notice, and when it pleases Heaven to inflict them with

such an animal as Tiglath they will know what to do.

To begin with, I bought him, his vices thick as his barsati, for a

hundred and seventy rupees, a five-chambered, muzzle-loading revolver,

and a Cawnpore saddle.

"Of course, for that price," said Staveley, "you can't expect

everything. He's not what one would call absolutely sound, y' know, but

there's no end of work in him, and if you only give him the butt he'll

go like a steam-engine."

"Staveley," I answered, "when you admit that he is not perfection

I perceive that I am in for a really Good Thing. Don't hurt your

conscience, Staveley. Tell me what is his chief vice--weakness,

partiality--anything you choose to call it. I shall get to know the

minor defects in the course of nature; but what is Tiglath's real


Staveley reflected a moment. "Well, really, I can't quite say, old

man, straight off the reel, y' know. He's a oner to go when his head's

turned to home. He's a regular feeder, and vaseline will cure that

little eruption"--with its malignant barsati--"in no time. Oh, I forgot

his shouk: I don't know exactly how to describe it, but he yaws a good

deal," said Staveley.

"He how muches?" I asked.

"Yaws," said Staveley; "goes a bit wide upon occasions, but a good

coachwan will cure that in one drive. My man let him do what he liked.

One fifty and a hundred, ten and ten is twenty--one-seventy. Many

thanks, indeed. I'll send over his bedding and ropes. He's a powerful

upstanding horse, though rather picked up just at present."

Staveley departed, and I was left alone with Tiglath. I called him

Tiglath because he resembled a lathy pig. Later on I called him Pileser

on account of his shouk; but my coachwan, a strong, masterless man,

called him "_haramzada chor, shaitan ké bap_" and "_oont ki beta_."

He certainly was a powerful horse, being full fifteen-two at the

withers, with the girth of a waler, and at first the docility of an

Arab. There was something wrong with his feet--permanently--but he

was a considerate beast, and never had more than one leg in hospital

at a time. The other three were still movable, and Tiglath never

grudged them in my service. I write this in justice to his memory; the

creaking of the wheels of the municipal cart being still in my ears.

For a season--some twelve days--Tiglath was beyond reproach. He had

not a cheerful disposition, nor did his pendulous underlip add to

his personal beauty; but he made no complaints, and moved swiftly to

and from office. The hot weather gave place to the cool breezes of

October, and with the turn of the year the slumbering devil in the soul

of Tiglath spread its wings and crowed aloud. I fed him well, I had

aided his barsati, I had lapped his lame legs in thanda putties, and

adorned his sinful body with new harness. He rewarded me upon a day

with an exhibition so new and strange that I feared for the moment his

reason had been unhinged. Slowly, with a malevolent grin, Tiglath, the

pampered, turned at right angles to the carriage--a newly-varnished

one--and backed the front wheels up the verandah steps, letting them

down with a bump. He then wheeled round and round in the portico, and

all but brought the carriage over. The show lasted for ten minutes, at

the end of which time he trotted peacefully away.

I was pained and grieved--nothing more, upon my honour. I forbade

the sais to kick Tiglath in the stomach, for I was persuaded that

the harness galled him, and, in this belief, at the end of the day,

undressed him tenderly and fitted sheepskin all over the said harness.

Tiglath ate the sheepskin next day, and I did not renew it.

A week later I met the Judge. It was a purely accidental interview.

I would have avoided it, as the Judge and I did not love each other,

but the shafts of my carriage were through the circular front of his

brougham, and Tiglath was rubbing the boss of his headstall tenderly

against the newly-varnished panels of the same. The Judge complained

that he might have been impaled as he sat. My coachwan declared on oath

that the horse deliberately ran into the brougham. Tiglath tendered no

evidence, and I began to mistrust him.

At the end of a month I perceived that my friends and acquaintances

avoided me markedly. The appearance of Tiglath at the band-stand was

enough to clear a space of ten yards in my immediate neighbourhood. I

had to shout to my friends from afar, and they shouted back the details

of the little bills which I had to pay their coach-builders. Tiglath

was suffering from carriagecidal mania, and the coachwan had asked for

leave. "Stay with me, Ibrahim," I said. "Thou seest how the sahib log

do now avoid us. Get a new and a stout chabuq, and instruct Tiglath in

the paths of straight walking."

"He will smash the Heaven-born's carriage. He is an old and stale

devil, but in this matter extreme wise," answered Ibrahim. "Kitto

sahib's filton hath he smashed, and Burkitt sahib's brougham gharri,

and another tum-tum, and Staveley sahib's carriage is still being

mended. What profit is this horse? He feigns blindness and much fear,

and in the guise of innocency works evil. I will stay, sahib, but the

blood of this thy new carriage be upon the brute's head and not upon

mine own."

I have no space to describe the war of the next few weeks. Foiled

in his desire to ruin only neighbours' property, Tiglath fell back

literally, upon his own--my carriage. He tried the verandah step

trick till he bent the springs, and wheeled round till the turning

action grew red-hot; he scraped stealthily by walls; he performed

between heavy-laden bullock-trains, but his chief delight was a _pas

de fantasie_ on a dark night and a high, level road. Yet what he did

he did staidly and without heat, as without remorse. He was vetted

thrice, and his eyes were pronounced sound. After this information

I laid my bones to the battle, and acquired a desperate facility of

leaping from the carriage and kicking Tiglath on the stomach as soon as

he wheeled around; leaping back at the risk of my life when he set off

at full speed. I pressed the lighted end of a cheroot just behind the

collar-buckle; I applied fusees to those flaccid nostrils, and I beat

him about the head with a stick continually. It was necessary, but it

was also demoralising. A year of Tiglath would have converted me into

a cold-blooded vivisectionist, or a native bullock-driver. Each day I

took stock of the injuries to my carriage. I had long since given up

all hope of keeping it in decent repair; and each day I devised fresh

torments for Tiglath.

He never meant to injure himself, I am certain, and no one was more

astonished than he when he backed on the Balumon road, and dropped the

carriage into a nullah on the night of the Jamabundi Moguls' dance. I

did not go to the dance. I was bent considerably, and one side of the

coachwan's face was flayed. When he had pieced the wreck together, he

only said, "Sahib!" and I said only "Bohat acha." But we each knew

what the other meant. Next morn Tiglath was stiff and strained. I gave

him time to recover and to enjoy life. When I heard him squealing to

the grass-cutter's ponies I knew that the hour had come. I ordered

the carriage, and myself superintended the funeral toilet of Tiglath.

His harness brasses shone like gold, his coat like a bottle, and he

lifted his feet daintily. Had he even then, at the eleventh hour, given

promise of amendment, I should have held my hand. But as I entered

the carriage I saw the hunching of his quarters that presaged trouble.

"Go forward, Tiglath, my love, my pride, my delight," I murmured. "For

a surety it is a matter of life and death this day." The sais ran to

his head with a fragment of chupatti, saved from his all too scanty

rations; the man loved him. And Tiglath swung round to the left in the

portico; round and round swung he, till the near ear touched the muzzle

of the shot-gun that waited its coming. He never flinched; he pressed

his fate. The coachwan threw down the reins as, with four ounces of

No. 5 shot behind the hollow of the root of the ear, Tiglath fell. In

his death he accomplished the desire of his life, for he fell upon the

shaft and broke it into three pieces. I looked on him as he lay, and of

a sudden the reason of the horror in his eyes was made clear. Tiglath,

the breaker of carriages, the strong, the rebellious, had passed into

the shadowy spirit land, where there was nought to destroy and no power

to destroy it with. The ghastly fore-knowledge of the flitting soul

was written on the glazing eyeball.

I repented me, then, that I had slain Tiglath, for I had no intention

of punishing him in the hereafter.


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


It was the General Officer Commanding, riding down the Mall, on the

Arab with the perky tail, and he condescended to explain some of the

mysteries of his profession. But the point on which he dwelt most

pompously was the ease with which the Private Thomas Atkins could be

"handled," as he called it. "Only feed him and give him a little work

to do, and you can do anything with him," said the General Officer

Commanding. "There's no refinement about Tommy, you know; and one

is very like another. They've all the same ideas and traditions and

prejudices. They're all big children. Fancy any man in his senses

shooting about these hills." There was the report of a shot-gun in the

valley. "I suppose they've hit a dog. Happy as the day is long when

they're out shooting dogs. Just like a big child is Tommy." He touched

up his horse and cantered away. There was a sound of angry voices down

the hillside.

"All right, you _soor_--I won't never forget this--mind you, not as

long as I live, and s' 'elp me--I'll----" The sentence finished in what

could be represented by a blaze of asterisks.

A deeper voice cut it short: "Oh, no, you won't, neither! Look a-here,

you young smitcher. If I was to take yer up now, and knock off your

'ead again' that tree, could ye say anythin'? No, nor yet do anythin'.

If I was to----Ah! you would, would you? There!" Some one had evidently

sat down with a thud, and was swearing nobly. I slid over the edge of

the _khud_, down through the long grass, and fetched up, after the

manner of a sledge, with my feet in the broad of the back of Gunner

Barnabas in the Mountain Battery, my friend, the very strong man. He

was sitting upon a man--a khaki-coloured volcano of blasphemy--and was

preparing to smoke. My sudden arrival threw him off his balance for a

moment. Then, readjusting his chair, he bade me good-day.

"'Im an' me 'ave bin 'avin' an arg'ment," said Gunner Barnabas

placidly. "I was going for to half kill him an' 'eave 'im into the

bushes 'ere, but, seein' that you 'ave come, sir, and very welcome when

you _do_ come, we will 'ave a court-martial instead. Shacklock, are you

willin'?" The volcano, who had been swearing uninterruptedly through

this oration, expressed a desire, in general and particular terms, to

see Gunner Barnabas in Torment and the "civilian" on the next gridiron.

Private Shacklock was a tow-haired, scrofulous boy of about

two-and-twenty. His nose was bleeding profusely, and the live air

attested that he had been drinking quite as much as was good for him.

He lay, stomach-down, on a little level spot on the hillside; for

Gunner Barnabas was sitting between his shoulder-blades, and his was

not a weight to wriggle under. Private Shacklock could barely draw

breath to swear, but he did the best that in him lay. "Amen," said

Gunner Barnabas piously, when an unusually brilliant string of oaths

came to an end. "Seein' that this gentleman 'ere has never seen the

inside o' the orsepitals you've gotten in, and the clinks you've been

chucked into like a hay-bundle, _per_-haps, Privite Shacklock, you will

stop. You are a-makin' of 'im sick." Private Shacklock said that he was

pleased to hear it, and would have continued his speech, but his breath

suddenly went from him, and the unfinished curse died out in a gasp.

Gunner Barnabas had put up one of his huge feet. "There's just enough

room now for you to breathe, Shacklock," said he, "an' not enough

for you to try to interrupt the conversashin I'm a-havin' with this

gentleman. _Choop!_" Turning to me, Gunner Barnabas pulled at his pipe,

but showed no hurry to open the "conversashin." I felt embarrassed,

for, after all, the thus strangely unearthed difference between the

Gunner and the Line man was no affair of mine. "Don't you go," said

Gunner Barnabas. He had evidently been deeply moved by something. He

dropped his head between his fists and looked steadily at me.

"I met this child 'ere," said he, "at Deelally--a fish-back recruity

as ever was. I knowed 'im at Deelally, and I give 'im a latherin'

at Deelally all for to keep 'im straight, 'e bein' such as wants

a latherin' an' knowin' nuthin' o' the ways o' this country. Then

I meets 'im up here, a butterfly-huntin' as innercent as you

please--convalessin'. I goes out with 'im butterfly-huntin', and, as

you see 'ere, a-shootin'. The gun betwixt us." I saw then, what I had

overlooked before, a Company fowling-piece lying among some boulders

far down the hill. Gunner Barnabas continued: "I should ha' seen where

he had a-bin to get that drink inside o' 'im. Presently, 'e misses

summat. 'You're a bloomin' fool,' sez I. 'If that had been a Pathan,

now!' I sez. 'Damn your Pathans, an' you, too,' sez 'e. 'I strook it.'

'You did not,' I sez, 'I saw the bark fly.' 'Stick to your bloomin'

pop-guns,' sez 'e, 'an' don't talk to a better man than you.' I laughed

there, knowin' what I was an' what 'e was. 'You laugh?' sez he. 'I

laugh,' I sez, 'Shacklock, an' for what should I not laugh?' sez I.

'Then go an' laugh in Hell,' sez 'e, 'for I'll 'ave none of your

laughin'.' With that 'e brings up the gun yonder and looses off, and I

stretches 'im there, and guv him a little to keep 'im quiet, and puts

'im under, an' while I was thinkin' what nex', you comes down the 'ill,

an' finds us as we was."

The Private was the Gunner's prey--I knew that the affair had fallen

as the Gunner had said, for my friend is constitutionally incapable of

lying--and I recognised that in his hands lay the boy's fate.

"What do _you_ think?" said Gunner Barnabas, after a silence broken

only by the convulsive breathing of the boy he was sitting on. "I

think nothing," I said. "He didn't go at me. He's your property." Then

an idea occurred to me. "Hand him over to his own Company. They'll

school him half dead." "Got no Comp'ny," said Gunner Barnabas. "'E's

a conv'lessint draft--all sixes an' sevens. Don't matter to them what

he did." "Thrash him yourself, then," I said. Gunner Barnabas looked

at the man and smiled; then caught up an arm, as a mother takes up the

dimpled arm of a child, and ran the sleeve and shirt up to the elbow.

"Look at that!" he said. It was a pitiful arm, lean and muscleless.

"Can you mill a man with an arm like that--such as I would like to mill

him, an' such as he deserves? I tell you, sir, an' I am not smokin'

(swaggering), as you see--I could take that man--Sodger 'e is, Lord

'elp 'im!--an' twis' off 'is arms an' 'is legs as if 'e was a naked

crab. See here!"

Before I could realise what was going to happen, Gunner Barnabas rose

up, stooped, and taking the wretched Private Shacklock by two points of

grasp, heaved him up above his head. The boy kicked once or twice, and

then was still. He was very white. "I could now," said Gunner Barnabas,

"I could now chuck this man where I like. Chuck him like a lump o'

beef, an' it would not be too much for him if I chucked. Can I thrash

such a man with both 'ands? No, nor yet with my right 'and tied behind

my back, an' my lef' in a sling."

He dropped Private Shacklock on the ground and sat upon him as before.

The boy groaned as the weight settled, but there was a look in his

white-lashed, red eyes that was not pleasant.

"I do not know _what_ I will do," said Gunner Barnabas, rocking himself

to and fro. "I know 'is breed, an' the way o' the likes o' them. If I

was in 'is Comp'ny, an' this 'ad 'appened, an' I 'ad struck 'im, as I

_would_ ha' struck him, 'twould ha' all passed off an' bin forgot till

the drink was in 'im again--a month, maybe, or six, maybe. An' when the

drink was frizzin' in 'is 'ead he would up and loose off in the night

or the day or the evenin'. _All acause of that millin' that 'e would ha

forgotten in betweens._ That I would be dead--killed by the likes o'

'im, an' me the next strongest man but three in the British Army!"

Private Shacklock, not so hardly pressed as he had been, found breath

to say that if he could only get hold of the fowling-piece again the

strongest man but three in the British Army would be seriously crippled

for the rest of his days. "Hear that!" said Gunner Barnabas, sitting

heavily to silence his chair. "Hear that, you that think things is

funny to put into the papers! He would shoot me, 'e would, now; an' so

long as he's drunk, or comin' out o' the drink, 'e will want to shoot

me. Look a-here!"

He turned the boy's head sideways, his hand round the nape of the

neck, his thumb touching the angle of the jaw. "What do you call those

marks?" They were the white scars of scrofula, with which Shacklock

was eaten up. I told Gunner Barnabas this. "I don't know what that

means. I call 'em murder-marks an' signs. If a man 'as these things on

'im, an' drinks, so long as 'e's drunk, 'e's mad--a looney. _But_ that

doesn't 'elp if 'e kills you. Look a-here, an' here!" The marks were

thick on the jaw and neck. "Stubbs 'ad 'em," said Gunner Barnabas to

himself, "an' Lancy 'ad 'em, an' Duggard 'ad 'em, an' wot's come to

_them_? _You've_ got 'em," he said, addressing himself to the man he

was handling like a roped calf, "an' sooner or later you'll go with the

rest of 'em. But this time I will not do anything--exceptin' keep you

here till the drink's dead in you."

Gunner Barnabas resettled himself and continued: "Twice this afternoon,

Shacklock, you 'ave been so near dyin' that I know no man more so. Once

was when I stretched you, an' might ha' wiped off your face with my

boot as you was lyin'; an' once was when I lifted you up in my fists.

Was you afraid, Shacklock?"

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

"An' once more I will show you how near you can go to Kingdom Come in

my 'ands." He knelt by Shacklock's side, the boy lying still as death.

"If I was to hit you here," said he, "I would break your chest, an'

you would die. If I was to put my 'and here, an' my other 'and here,

I would twis' your neck, an' you would die, Privite Shacklock. If I

was to put my knees here an' put your 'ead _so_, I would pull off your

'ead, Privite Shacklock, an' you would die. If you think as how I am a

liar, say so, an' I'll show you. _Do_ you think so?"

"No," whispered Private Shacklock, not daring to move a muscle, for

Barnabas's hand was on his neck.

"Now, remember," went on Barnabas, "neither you will say nothing nor I

will say nothing o' what has happened. I ha' put you to shame before

me an' this gentleman here, an' that is enough. But I tell you, an'

you give 'eed now, it would be better for you to desert than to go on

a-servin' where you are now. If I meets you again--if my Batt'ry lays

with your Reg'ment, an' Privite Shacklock is on the rolls, I will first

mill you myself till you can't see, and then I will say why I strook

you. You must go, an' look bloomin' slippy about it, for if you stay,

so sure as God made Paythans an' we've got to wipe 'em out, you'll be

loosing off o' unauthorised amminition--in or out o' barricks, an'

you'll be 'anged for it. I know your breed, an' I know what these 'ere

white marks mean. You're mad, Shacklock, that's all--and here you

stay, under me. An' now _choop_, an' lie still."

I waited and smoked, and Gunner Barnabas smoked till the shadows

lengthened on the hillside, and a chilly wind began to blow. At dusk

Gunner Barnabas rose and looked at his captive. "Drink's out o' 'im

now," he said.

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

"I'll carry you," said Gunner Barnabas, swinging him up and preparing

to climb the hill. "Good-night, sir," he said to me. "It looks pretty,

doesn't it? But never you forget, an' I won't forget neither, that this

'ere shiverin', shakin', convalescent a-hangin' on to my neck is a

ragin', tearin' devil when 'e's lushy--an' 'e a boy!"

He strode up to the hill with his burden, but just before he

disappeared he turned round and shouted: "It's the likes o' 'im

brings shame on the likes o' us. 'Tain't we ourselves, s'elp me Gawd,



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



"Can't make up a four?"

"Poker, then?"

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

"Seeking what he may devour," murmured a third voice from behind a

newspaper. "Stop the punkah, and make him go away."

"Don't talk of it on a night like this. It's enough to give a man fits.

You've no enterprise. Here I've taken the trouble to come over after


"On the off-chance of skinning some one. I don't believe you ever

crossed a horse for pleasure."

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

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

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


"Split in this weather! Hi, bearer, _do burra--burra_ whiskey-peg

_lao_, and just put all the _barf_ into them that you can find."

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

"How the deuce d'you expect a man to improve his mind when you two are

_bukking_ about drinks? _Qui hai! Mera wasti bhi._"

"Oh! you're alive, are you? I thought pegs would fetch you out of that.

Game for a little poker?"

"Poker--poker--_red-hot_ poker! Saveloy, you're too generous. Can't you

let a man die in peace?"

"Who's going to die?"

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

bring the peg quickly."

"All right. Die away, _mon ami_. Only don't do it in the Club, that's

all. Can't have it littered up with dead members. Houligan would


"By Jove! I think I can imagine old Houligan doing it. 'Member dead

in the ante-room? Good Gud! Bless my soul! Impossible to run a Club

this way. Call the Babu and see if his last month's bill is paid. Not

paid! Good Gud! Bless my soul! Impossible to run a Club this way. Babu,

attach that body till the bill is paid.' Revel, you might just hurry

up your dying once in a way to give us the pleasure of seeing Houligan


"I'll die legitimately," said Revel. "I'm not going to create a fresh

scandal in the station. I'll wait for heat-apoplexy, or whatever is

going, to come and fetch me."

"This is _pukka_ hot-weather talk," said Saveloy. "I come over for

a little honest poker, and find two moderately sensible men, Revel

and Dallston, talking tombs. I'm sorry I've thrown away my valuable


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


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

"There isn't. I haven't seen a daisy for seven years, and now I want

to die," said Revel, plunging luxuriously into his peg.

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


"Half a minute. Bearer, _cherut lao_! Tobacco soothes the nerves when a

man is expecting to hear a whacker. We know what your Frontier stories

are, Martha."

Dallston had once, in a misguided moment, taken the part of Martha in

the burlesque of _Faust_, and the nickname stuck.

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

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


"He told me that he had died."

"Was _that_ all? Explain him."

"It was this way. The man went down with a bad go of fever and was

off his head. About the second day it struck him in the middle of the


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

"Never mind. It's too hot to put it correctly. In the middle of the

night he woke up quite calm, and it struck him that it would be a good

thing to die--just as it might ha' struck him that it would be a good

thing to put ice on his head. He lay on his bed and thought it over,

and the more he thought about it, the better sort of _bundobust_ it

seemed to be. He was quite calm, you know, and he said that he could

have sworn that he had no fever on him."

"Well, what happened?"

"Oh, he got up and loaded his revolver--he remembers all this--and let

fly, with the muzzle to his temple. The thing didn't go off, so he

turned it up and found he'd forgot to load one chamber."

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

"Hang it! It's a _true_ yarn. Well, he jammed the thing to his head

_again_, and it missed fire, and he said that he felt ready to cry with

rage, he was so disgusted. So he took it by the muzzle and hit himself

on the head with it."

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

"No, but the blow knocked him silly, and he thought he was dead. He was

awfully pleased, for he had been fiddling over the show for nearly half

an hour. He dropped down and died. When he got his wits again, he was

shaking with the fever worse than ever, but he had sense enough to go

and knock up the doctor and give himself into his charge as a lunatic.

Then he went clean off his head till the fever wore out."

"That's a good story," said Revel critically. "I didn't think you had

it in you at this season of the year."

"I can believe it," said the man they called Saveloy. "Fever makes one

do all sorts of queer things. I suppose your friend was mad with it

when he discovered it would be so healthy to die."

"S'pose so. The fever must have been so bad that he felt all

right--same way that a man who is nearly mad with drink gets to look

sober. Well, anyhow, there was a man who died."

"Did he tell you what it felt like?"

"He said that he was awfully happy until his fever came back and shook

him up. Then he was sick with fear. I don't wonder. He'd had rather a

narrow escape."

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

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

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

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

"Never mind, I'll forgive you. But this happened to me. Since you _are_

talking tombs, I'll assist at the séance. It was in '82 or '83, I have

forgotten which. Anyhow, it was when I was on the Utamamula Canal

Headworks, and I was chumming with a man called Stovey. You've never

met him because he belongs to the Bombay side, and if he isn't really

dead by this he ought to be somewhere there now. He was a _pukka_

sweep, and I hated him. We divided the Canal bungalow between us, and

we kept strictly to our own side of the buildings."

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

"Living picture of the King of Spades--a blackish, greasy sort of

ruffian who hadn't any pretence of manners or form. He used to dine in

the kit he had been messing about the Canal in all day, and I don't

believe he ever washed. He had the embankments to look after, and I was

in charge of the headworks, but he was always contriving to fall foul

of me if he possibly could."

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

"Don't know Mullane, but Stovey was a sweep. Canal work isn't exactly

cheering, and it doesn't take you into _much_ society. We were like a

couple of rats in a burrow, grubbing and scooping all day and turning

in at night into the barn of a bungalow. Well, this man Stovey didn't

get fever. He was so coated with dirt that I don't believe the fever

could have got at him. He just began to go mad."

"Cheerful! What were the symptoms?"

"Well, his naturally vile temper grew infamous. It was really unsafe to

speak to him, and he always seemed anxious to murder a coolie or two.

With me, of course, he restrained himself a little, but he sulked like

a bear for days and days together. As he was the only European society

within sixty miles, you can imagine how nice it was for me. He'd sit

at table and sulk and stare at the opposite wall by the hour--instead

of doing his work. When I pointed out that the Government didn't send

us into these cheerful places to twiddle our thumbs, he glared like

a beast. Oh, he was a thorough hog! He had a lot of other endearing

tricks, but the worst was when he began to pray."

"Began to--how much?"

"Pray. He'd got hold of an old copy of the _War Cry_ and used to

read it at meals; and I suppose that that, on the top of tough goat,

disordered his intellect. One night I heard him in his room groaning

and talking at a fearful rate. Next morning I asked him if he'd been

taken worse. 'I've been engaged in prayer,' he said, looking as black

as thunder. 'A man's spiritual concerns are his own property.' One

night--he'd kept up these spiritual exercises for about ten days,

growing queerer and queerer every day--he said 'Good-night' after

dinner, and got up and shook hands with me."

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

"At first I couldn't make out what the man wanted. No fellow shakes

hands with a fellow he's living with--least of all such a beast as

Stovey. However, I was civil, but the minute after he'd left the room

it struck me what he was going to do. If he hadn't shaken hands I'd

have taken no notice, I suppose. This unusual effusion put me on my


"Curious thing! You can nearly always tell when a Johnnie means pegging

out. He gives himself away by some softening. It's human nature. What

did you do?"

"Called him back, and asked him what the this and that he meant by

interfering with my coolies in the day. He was generally hampering

my men, but I had never taken any notice of his vagaries till then.

In another minute we were arguing away, hammer and tongs. If it had

been any other man I'd 'a' simply thrown the lamp at his head. He was

calling me all the mean names under the sun, accusing me of misusing my

authority and goodness only knows what all. When he had talked himself

down one stretch, I had only to say a few words to start him off again,

as fresh as a daisy. On my word, this jabbering went on for nearly

three hours."

"Why didn't you get coolies and have him tied up, if you thought he was

mad?" asked Revel.

"Not a safe business, believe me. Wrongful restraint on your own

responsibility of a man nearly your own standing looks ugly. Well,

Stovey went on bullying me and complaining about everything I'd ever

said or done since I came on the Canal, till--he went fast asleep."


"Went off dead asleep, just as if he'd been drugged. I thought the

brute had had a fit at first, but there he was, with his head hanging

a little on one side and his mouth open. I knocked up his bearer and

told him to take the man to bed. We carried him off and shoved him on

his charpoy. He was still asleep, and I didn't think it worth while

to undress him. The fit, whatever it was, had worked itself out, and

he was limp and used up. But as I was going to leave the room, and

went to turn the lamp down, I looked in the glass and saw that he was

watching me between his eyelids. When I spun round he seemed asleep.

'That's your game, is it?' I thought, and I stood over him long enough

to see that he was shamming. Then I cast an eye round the room and

saw his Martini in the corner. We were all _bullumteers_ on the Canal

works. I couldn't find the cartridges, so to make all serene I knocked

the breech-pin out with the cleaning-rod and went to my own room. I

didn't go to sleep for some time. About one o'clock--our rooms were

only divided by a door of sorts, and my bed was close to it--I heard

my friend open a chest of drawers. Then he went for the Martini. Of

course, the breech-block came out with a rattle. Then he went back to

bed again, and I nearly laughed.

"Next morning he was doing the genial, hail-fellow-well-met trick.

Said he was afraid he'd lost his temper overnight, and apologised for

it. About half way through breakfast--he was talking thickly about

everything and anything--he said he'd come to the conclusion that a

beard was a beastly nuisance and made one stuffy. He was going to shave

his. Would I lend him my razors? 'Oh, you're a crafty beast, you are,'

I said to myself. I told him that I was of the other opinion, and

finding my razors nearly worn out had chucked them into the Canal only

the night before. He gave me one look under his eyebrows and went on

with his breakfast. I was in a stew lest the man should cut his throat

with one of the breakfast knives, so I kept one eye on him most of the


"Before I left the bungalow I caught old Jeewun Singh, one of the

_mistries_ on the gates, and gave him strict orders that he was to

keep in sight of the Sahib wherever he went and whatever he did; and

if he did or tried to do anything foolish, such as jumping down the

well, Jeewun Singh was to stop him. The old man tumbled at once, and

I was easier in my mind when I saw how he was shadowing Stovey up and

down the works. Then I sat down and wrote a letter to old Baggs, the

Civil Surgeon at Chemanghath, about sixty miles off, telling him how

we stood. The runner left about three o'clock. Jeewun Singh turned up

at the end of the day and gave a full, true and particular account of

Stovey's doings. D'you know what the brute had done?"

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

"He'd stopped the runner, opened the bag, read my letter and torn it

up! There were only two letters in the bag, both of which I'd written.

I was pretty _average_ angry, but I lay low. At dinner he said he'd got

a touch of dysentery and wanted some chlorodyne. For a man anxious to

depart this life he was _about_ as badly equipped as you could wish.

Hadn't even a medicine-chest to play with. He was no more suffering

from dysentery than I, but I said I'd give him the chlorodyne, and so

I did--fifteen drops, mixed in a wine-glass, and when he asked for the

bottle I said that I hadn't any more.

"That night he began praying again, and I just lay in bed and

shuddered. He was invoking the most blasphemous curses on my head--all

in a whisper, for fear of waking me up--for frustrating what he called

his 'great and holy purpose.' You never heard anything like it. But as

long as he was praying I knew he was alive, and he ran his praying half

through the night.

"Well, for the next ten days he was apparently quite rational; but I

watched him and told Jeewun Singh to watch him like a cat. I suppose he

wanted to throw me off my guard, but I wasn't to be thrown. I grew thin

watching him. Baggs wrote in to say he had gone on tour and couldn't be

found anywhere in particular for another six weeks. It was a ghastly


"One day old Jeewun Singh turned up with a bit of paper that Stovey

had given to one of the _lohars_ as a _naksha_. I thought it was mean

work spying into another man's very plans, but when I saw what was on

the paper I gave old Jeewun Singh a rupee. It was a be-auti-ful little

breech-pin. The one-idead idiot had gone back to Martini! I never

dreamt of such persistence. 'Tell me when the _lohar_ gives it to the

Sahib,' I said, and I felt more comfy for a few days. Even if Jeewun

Singh hadn't split I should have known when the new breech-pin was

made. The brute came in to dinner with a dashed confident, triumphant

air, as if he'd done me in the eye at last; and all through dinner he

was fiddling in his waistcoat pocket. He went to bed early. I went,

too, and I put my head against the door and listened like a woman. I

must have been shivering in my pyjamas for about two hours before my

friend went for the dismantled Martini. He could not get the breech-pin

to fit at first. He rummaged about, and then I heard a file go. That

seemed to make too much noise to suit his fancy, so he opened the door

and went out into the compound, and I heard him, about fifty yards off,

filing in the dark at that breech-pin as if he had been possessed.

Well, he _was_, you know. Then he came back to the light, cursing me

for keeping him out of his rest and the peace of Abraham's bosom. As

soon as I heard him taking up the Martini, I ran round to his door and

tried to enter gaily, as the stage directions say. 'Lend me your gun,

old man, if you're awake,' I said. 'There's a howling big brute of a

pariah in my room, and I want to get a shot at it.' I pretended not

to notice that he was standing over the gun, but just pranced up and

caught hold of it. He turned round with a jump and said: 'I'm sick of

this. I'll see that dog, and if it's another of your lies I'll----' You

know I'm not a moral man."

"Hear! hear!" drowsily from Martha.

"But I simply daren't repeat what he said. 'All right!' I said, still

hanging on to the gun. 'Come along and we'll bowl him over.' He

followed me into my room with a face like a fiend in torment. And,

as truly as I'm yarning here, there _was_ a huge brindled beast of a

pariah sitting _on my bed_!"

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

"Hang it! Could I have invented that pariah? Stovey dropped of the gun

and flopped down in a corner and yowled. I went '_ee ki ri ki re!_'

like a woman in hysterics, pitched the gun forward and loosed off

through a window."

"And the pariah?"

"He quitted for the time being. Stovey was in an awful state. He swore

the animal hadn't been there when I called him. That was true enough. I

firmly believe Providence put it there to save me from being killed by

the infuriated Stovey."

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

"Stovey tried to recover himself and pass it all over, but he let me

keep the gun and went to bed. About two days afterwards old Baggs

turned up on tour, and I told him Stovey wanted watching--more than

I could give him. I don't know whether Baggs or the _pi_ did it, but

he didn't throw any more suicidal splints. I was transferred a little

while afterwards."

"Ever meet the man again?"

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

after him."

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

"Not a bit. It was a _pukka pi_. Stovey seemed to remember me in the

same way that a horse seems to remember. I fancy his brain was a

little cloudy. We tiffined together--_after_ the _pi_ had been fed,

if you please--and Stovey said to me: 'See that dog? He saved my life

once. Oh, by the way, I believe you were there, too, weren't you?' I

shouldn't care to work with Stovey again."

       *       *       *       *       *

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

"What I like about Saveloy's play," said Martha, looking at the

ceiling, "is the beautifully artistic way in which he follows up a

flush with a full. Go to bed, old man!"


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


 There are men, both good and wise, who hold that in a future state

   Dumb creatures we have cherished here below

 Will give us joyous welcome as we pass the Golden Gate.

   Is it folly if I hope it may be so?

 --_The Place Where the Old Horse Died._

If there were any explanation available here, I should be the first

person to offer it. Unfortunately, there is not, and I am compelled to

confine myself to the facts of the case as vouched for by Hordene and

confirmed by "Guj," who is the last man in the world to throw away a

valuable horse for nothing.

Jale came up with _Thurinda_ to the Shayid Spring meeting; and

besides _Thurinda_ his string included _Divorce_, _Meg's Diversions_

and _Benoni_--ponies of sorts. He won the Officers' Scurry--five

furlongs--with _Benoni_ on the first day, and that sent up the price of

the stable in the evening lotteries; for _Benoni_ was the worst-looking

of the three, being a pigeon-toed, split-chested _dâk_ horse, with a

wonderful gift of blundering in on his shoulders--ridden out to the

last ounce--but _first_. Next day Jale was riding _Divorce_ in the

Wattle and Dab Stakes--round the jump course; and she turned over at

the on-and-off course when she was leading and managed to break her

neck. She never stirred from the place where she dropped, and Jale did

not move either till he was carried off the ground to his tent close

to the big _shamiana_ where the lotteries were held. He had ricked his

back, and everything below the hips was as dead as timber. Otherwise he

was perfectly well. The doctor said that the stiffness would spread and

that he would die before the next morning. Jale insisted upon knowing

the worst, and when he heard it sent a pencil note to the Honorary

Secretary, saying that they were not to stop the races or do anything

foolish of that kind. If he hung on till the next day the nominations

for the third day's racing would not be void, and he would settle up

all claims before he threw up his hand. This relieved the Honorary

Secretary, because most of the horses had come from a long distance,

and, under any circumstance, even had the Judge dropped dead in the

box, it would have been impossible to have postponed the racing. There

was a great deal of money on the third day, and five or six of the

owners were gentlemen who would make even one day's delay an excuse.

Well, settling would not be easy. No one knew much about Jale. He was

an outsider from down country, but every one hoped that, since he was

doomed, he would live through the third day and save trouble.

Jale lay on his charpoy in the tent and asked the doctor and the man

who catered to the refreshments--he was the nearest at the time--to

witness his will. "I don't know how long my arms will be workable,"

said Jale, "and we'd better get this business over." The private

arrangements of the will concern nobody but Jale's friends; but there

was one clause that was rather curious. "Who was that man with the

brindled hair who put me up for a night until the tent was ready? The

man who rode down to pick me up when I was smashed. Nice sort of fellow

he seemed." "Hordene?" said the doctor. "Yes, Hordene. Good chap,

Hordene. He keeps Bull whisky. Write down that I give this Johnnie

Hordene _Thurinda_ for his own, if he can sell the other ponies.

_Thurinda's_ a good mare. He can enter her--post-entry--for the All

Horse Sweep if he likes--on the last day. Have you got that down? I

suppose the Stewards'll recognise the gift?" "No trouble about that,"

said the doctor. "All right. Give him the other two ponies to sell.

They're entered for the last day, but I shall be dead then. Tell him to

send the money to----" Here he gave an address. "Now I'll sign and you

sign, and that's all. This deadness is coming up between my shoulders."

Jale lived, dying very slowly, till the third day's racing, and up

till the time of the lotteries on the fourth day's racing. The doctor

was rather surprised. Hordene came in to thank him for his gift, and

to suggest it would be much better to sell _Thurinda_ with the others.

She was the best of them all, and would have fetched twelve hundred on

her looking-over merits only. "Don't you bother," said Jale. "You take

her. I rather liked you. I've got no people, and that Bull whisky was

first-class stuff. I'm pegging out now, I think."

The lottery-tent outside was beginning to fill, and Jale heard the

click of the dice. "That's all right," said he. "I wish I was there,

but--I'm--going to the drawer." Then he died quietly. Hordene went into

the lottery-tent, after calling the doctor. "How's Jale?" said the

Honorary Secretary. "Gone to the drawer," said Hordene, settling into

a chair and reaching out for a lottery paper. "Poor beggar!" said the

Honorary Secretary. "'Twasn't the fault of our on-and-off, though. The

mare blundered. Gentlemen! gentlemen! Nine hundred and eighty rupees

in the lottery, and _River of Years_ for sale!" The lottery lasted

far into the night, and there was a supplementary lottery on the All

Horse Sweep, where _Thurinda_ sold for a song, and was not bought by

her owner. "It's not lucky," said Hordene, and the rest of the men

agreed with him. "I ride her myself, but I don't know anything about

her and I wish to goodness I hadn't taken her," said he. "Oh, bosh!

Never refuse a horse or a drink, however you come by them. No one

objects, do they? Not going to refer this matter to Calcutta, are we?

Here, somebody, bid! Eleven hundred and fifty rupees in the lottery,

and _Thurinda_--absolutely unknown, acquired under the most romantic

circumstances from about _the_ toughest man it has ever been my good

fortune to meet--for sale. Hullo, Nurji, is that you? Gentlemen, where

a Pagan bids shall enlightened Christians hang back? Ten! Going, going,

gone!" "You want ha-af, sar?" said the battered native trainer to

Hordene. "No, thanks--not a bit of her for me."

The All Horse Sweep was run, and won by _Thurinda_ by about a street

and three-quarters, to be very accurate, amid derisive cheers, which

Hordene, who flattered himself that he knew something about riding,

could not understand. On pulling up he looked over his shoulder and

saw that the second horse was only just passing the box. "Now, how did

I make such a fool of myself?" he said as he returned to weigh out.

His friends gathered round him and asked tenderly whether this was

the first time that he had got up, and whether it was _absolutely_

necessary that the winning horse should be ridden out when the field

were hopelessly pumped, a quarter of a mile behind, etc., etc.

"I--I--thought _River of Years_ was pressing me," explained Hordene.

"_River of Years_ was wallowing, absolutely wallowing," said a man,

"before you turned into the straight. You rode like a--hang it--like a

Militia subaltern!"

The Shayid Spring meeting broke up and the sportsmen turned their

steps towards the next carcase--the Ghoriah Spring. With them went

_Thurinda's_ owner, the happy possessor of an almost perfect animal.

"She's as easy as a Pullman car and about twice as fast," he was wont

to say in moments of confidence to his intimates. "For all her bulk,

she's as handy as a polo-pony; a child might ride her, and when she's

at the post she's as cute--she's as cute as the bally starter himself."

Many times had Hordene said this, till at last one unsympathetic

friend answered with: "When a man _bukhs_ too much about his wife or

his horse, it's a sure sign he's trying to make himself like 'em. I

mistrust your _Thurinda_. She's too good, or else----" "Or else what?"

"You're trying to believe you like her." "Like her! I _love_ her! I

trust that darling as I'm shot if I'd trust you. I'd hack her for

tuppence." "Hack away, then. I don't want to hurt your feelings. I

don't hack my stable myself, but some horses go better for it. Come and

peacock at the band-stand this evening." To the band-stand accordingly

Hordene came, and the lovely _Thurinda_ comported herself with all the

gravity and decorum that might have been expected. Hordene rode home

with the scoffer, through the dusk, discoursing on matters indifferent.

"Hold up a minute," said his friend, "there's Gagley riding behind

us." Then, raising his voice: "Come along, Gagley! I want to speak

to you about the Race Ball." But no Gagley came; and the couple went

forward at a trot. "Hang it! There's that man behind us still."

Hordene listened and could clearly hear the sound of a horse trotting,

apparently just behind them. "Come on, Gagley! Don't play bo-peep in

that ridiculous way," shouted the friend. Again no Gagley. Twenty yards

farther there was a crash and a stumble as the friend's horse came down

over an unseen rat-hole. "How much damaged?" asked Hordene. "Sprained

my wrist," was the dolorous answer, "and there is something wrong with

my knee-cap. There goes my mount to-morrow, and this gee is cut like a


On the first day of the Ghoriah meeting _Thurinda_ was hopelessly

ridden out by a native jockey, to whose care Hordene had at the last

moment been compelled to confide her. "You forsaken idiot!" said

he, "what made you begin riding as soon as you were clear? She had

everything safe, if you'd only left her alone. You rode her out before

the home turn, you hog!" "What could I do?" said the jockey sullenly.

"I was pressed by another horse." "Whose 'other horse'? There were

twenty yards of daylight between you and the ruck. If you'd kept her

there even then 'twouldn't ha' mattered. But you rode her out--you

rode her out!" "There was another horse and he pressed me to the end,

and when I looked round he was no longer there." Let us, in charity,

draw a veil over Hordene's language at this point. "Goodness knows

whether she'll be fit to pull out again for the last event. D----n you

and your other horses! I wish I'd broken your neck before letting you

get up!" _Thurinda_ was done to a turn, and it seemed a cruelty to

ask her to run again in the last race of the day. Hordene rode this

time, and was careful to keep the mare within herself at the outset.

Once more _Thurinda_ left her field--with one exception--a grey horse

that hung upon her flanks and could not be shaken off. The mare was

done, and refused to answer the call upon her. She tried hopelessly

in the straight and was caught and passed by her old enemy, _River

of Years_--the chestnut of Kurnaul. "You rode well--like a native,

Hordene," was the unflattering comment. "The mare was ridden out before

_River of Years_." "But the grey," began Hordene, and then ceased, for

he knew that there was no grey in the race. _Blue Point_ and _Diamond

Dust_, the only greys at the meeting, were running in the Arab Handicap.

He caught his native jockey. "What horse, d'you say, pressed you?" "I

don't know. It was a grey with nutmeg tickings behind the saddle."

That evening Hordene sought the great Major Blare-Tyndar, who knew

personally the father, mother and ancestors of almost every horse,

brought from _ekka_ or ship, that had ever set foot on an Indian

race-course. "Say, Major, what is a grey horse with nutmeg tickings

behind the saddle?" "A curiosity. _Wendell Holmes_ is a grey, with

nutmeg on the near shoulder, but there is no horse marked your way,

now." Then, after a pause: "No, I'm wrong--you ought to know. The pony

that got you _Thurinda_ was grey and nutmeg." "How much?" "_Divorce_,

of course. The mare that broke her neck at the Shayid meeting and

killed Jale. A big thirteen-three she was. I recollect when she was

hacking old Snuffy Beans to office. He bought her from a dealer, who

had her left on his hands as a rejection when the Pink Hussars were

buying team up country and then----Hullo! The man's gone!" Hordene

had departed on receipt of information which he already knew. He only

demanded extra confirmation. Then he began to argue with himself,

bearing in mind that he himself was a sane man, neither gluttonous nor

a wine-bibber, with an unimpaired digestion, and that _Thurinda_ was to

all appearance a horse of ordinary flesh and exceedingly good blood.

Arrived at these satisfactory conclusions, he reargued the whole matter.

Being by nature intensely superstitious, he decided upon scratching

_Thurinda_ and facing the howl of indignation that would follow. He

also decided to leave the Ghoriah meet and change his luck. But it

would have been sinful--positively wicked--to have left without waiting

for the polo-match that was to conclude the festivities. At the last

moment before the match, one of the leading players of the Ghoriah team

and Hordene's host discovered that, through the kindly foresight of his

head _sais_, every single pony had been taken down to the ground. "Lend

me a hack, old man," he shouted to Hordene as he was changing. "Take

_Thurinda_," was the reply. "She'll bring you down in ten minutes."

And _Thurinda_ was accordingly saddled for Marish's benefit. "I'll

go down with you," said Hordene. The two rode off together at a hand

canter. "By Jove! Somebody's _sais_ 'll get kicked for this!" said

Marish, looking round. "Look there! He's coming for the mare! Pull

out into the middle of the road." "What on earth d'you mean?" "Well,

if _you_ can take a strayed horse so calmly, I can't. Didn't you see

what a lather that grey was in?" "What grey?" "The grey that just

passed us--saddle and all. He's got away from the ground, I suppose.

Now he's turned the corner; but you can hear his hoofs. Listen!" There

was a furious gallop of shod horses, gradually dying into silence.

"Come along," said Hordene. "We're late as it is. We shall know all

about it on the ground." "Anybody lost a tat?" asked Marish cheerily

as they reached the ground. "No, we've lost _you_. Double up. You're

late enough as it is. Get up and go in. The teams are waiting." Marish

mounted his polo-pony and cantered across. Hordene watched the game

idly for a few moments. There was a scrimmage, a cloud of dust, and a

cessation of play, and a shouting for _saises_. The umpire clattered

forward and returned. "What has happened?" "Marish! Neck broken!

Nobody's fault. Pony crossed its legs and came down. Game's stopped.

Thank God, he hasn't got a wife!" Again Hordene pondered as he sat on

his horse's back. "Under any circumstances it was written that he was

to be killed. I had no interest in his death, and he had his warning,

I suppose. I can't make out the system that this infernal mare runs

under. Why _him_? Anyway, I'll shoot her." He looked at _Thurinda_, the

calm-eyed, the beautiful, and repented. "No! I'll sell her."

"What in the world has happened to _Thurinda_ that Hordene is so keen

on getting rid of her?" was the general question. "I want money," said

Hordene unblushingly, and the few who knew how his accounts stood saw

that this was a varnished lie. But they held their peace because of

the great love and trust that exists among the ancient and honourable

fraternity of sportsmen.

"There's nothing wrong with her," explained Hordene. "Try her as much

as you like, but let her stay in my stable until you've made up your

mind one way or the other. Nine hundred's my price."

"I'll take her at that," quoth a red-haired subaltern, nicknamed

Carrots, later Gaja, and then, for brevity's sake, Guj. "Let me have

her out this afternoon. I want her more for hacking than anything else."

Guj tried _Thurinda_ exhaustively and had no fault to find with her.

"She's all right," he said briefly. "I'll take her. It's a cash deal."

"Virtuous Guj!" said Hordene, pocketing the cheque. "If you go on like

this you'll be loved and respected by all who know you."

A week later Guj insisted that Hordene should accompany him on a ride.

They cantered merrily for a time. Then said the subaltern: "Listen to

the mare's beat a minute, will you? Seems to me that you've sold me two


Behind the mare was plainly audible the cadence of a swiftly trotting

horse. "D'you hear anything?" said Guj. "No--nothing but the regular

triplet," said Hordene; and he lied when he answered. Guj looked at

him keenly and said nothing. Two or three months passed and Hordene

was perplexed to see his old property running, and running well, under

the curious title of "_Sleipner_--late _Thurinda_." He consulted the

Great Major, who said: "I don't know a horse called _Sleipner_, but

I know _of_ one. He was a northern bred, and belonged to Odin." "A

mythological beast?" "Exactly. Like _Bucephalus_ and the rest of 'em.

He was a great horse. I wish I had some of his get in my stable."

"Why?" "Because he had eight legs. When he had used up one set, he let

down the other four to come up the straight on. Stewards were lenient

in those days. _Now_ it's all you can do to get a crock with _three_

sound legs."

Hordene cursed the red-haired Guj in his heart for finding out the

mare's peculiarity. Then he cursed the dead man Jale for his ridiculous

interference with a free gift. "If it was given--it was given," said

Hordene, "and he has no right to come messing about after it." When Guj

and he next met, he enquired tenderly after _Thurinda_. The red-haired

subaltern, impassive as usual, answered: "I've shot her." "Well--you

know your own affairs best," said Hordene. "You've given yourself

away," said Guj. "What makes you think I shot a sound horse? She might

have been bitten by a mad dog, or lamed." "You didn't say that." "No,

I didn't, because I've a notion that you knew what was wrong with her."

"Wrong with her! She was as sound as a bell----" "I know that. Don't

pretend to misunderstand. You'll believe _me_, and I'll believe _you_

in this show; but no one else will believe _us_. That mare was a bally

nightmare." "Go on," said Hordene. "I stuck the noise of the other

horse as long as I could, and called her _Sleipner_ on the strength

of it. _Sleipner_ was a stallion, but that's a detail. When it got to

interfering with every race I rode it was more than I could stick.

I took her off racing, and, on my honour, since that time I've been

nearly driven out of my mind by a grey and nutmeg pony. It used to trot

round my quarters at night, fool about the Mall, and graze about the

compound. You _know_ that pony. It isn't a pony to catch or ride or

hit, is it?" "No," said Hordene; "I've seen it." "So I shot _Thurinda_;

that was a thousand rupees out of my pocket. And old Stiffer, who's got

his new crematorium in full blast, cremated her. I say, what _was_ the

matter with the mare? Was she bewitched?"

Hordene told the story of the gift, which Guj heard out to the end.

"Now, that's a nice sort of yarn to tell in a messroom, isn't it?

They'd call it jumps or insanity," said Guj. "There's no reason in it.

It doesn't lead up to anything. It only killed poor Marish and made you

stick me with the mare; and yet it's true. Are you mad or drunk, or am

I? That's the only explanation." "Can't be drunk for nine months on

end, and madness would show in that time," said Hordene.

"All right," said Guj recklessly, going to the window. "I'll lay that

ghost." He leaned out into the night and shouted: "Jale! Jale! Jale!

Wherever you are." There was a pause and then up the compound-drive

came the clatter of a horse's feet. The red-haired subaltern blanched

under his freckles to the colour of glycerine soap. "_Thurinda's_

dead," he muttered, "and--and all bets are off. Go back to your grave


Hordene was watching him open-mouthed.

"Now bring me a strait-jacket or a glass of brandy," said Guj. "That's

enough to turn a man's hair white. What did the poor wretch mean by

knocking about the earth?"

"Don't know," whispered Hordene hoarsely. "Let's get over to the Club.

I'm feeling a bit shaky."


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


 Shall I not one day remember thy Bower--

   One day when all days are one day to me?

 Thinking I stirred not and yet had the power,

   Yearning--ah, God, if again it might be!

                 --_The Song of the Bower_.

This is a base betrayal of confidence, but the sin is Mrs. Hauksbee's

and not mine.

If you remember a certain foolish tale called "The Education of Otis

Yeere," you will not forget that Mrs. Mallowe laughed at the wrong

time, which was a single, and at Mrs. Hauksbee, which was a double,

offence. An experiment had gone wrong, and it seems that Mrs. Mallowe

had said some quaint things about the experimentrix.

"I am not angry," said Mrs. Hauksbee, "and I admire Polly in spite

of her evil counsels to me. But I shall wait--I shall wait, like the

frog footman in _Alice in Wonderland_, and Providence will deliver

Polly into my hands. It always does if you wait." And she departed

to vex the soul of the "Hawley boy," who says that she is singularly

"_uninstruite_ and childlike." He got that first word out of a Ouida

novel. I do not know what it means, but am prepared to make an

affidavit before the Collector that it does not mean Mrs. Hauksbee.

Mrs. Hauksbee's ideas of waiting are very liberal. She told the "Hawley

boy" that he dared not tell Mrs. Reiver that "she was an intellectual

woman with a gift for attracting men," and she offered another man

two waltzes if he would repeat the same thing in the same ears. But

he said: "Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes," which means "Mistrust all

waltzes except those you get for legitimate asking."

The "Hawley boy" did as he was told because he believes in Mrs.

Hauksbee. He was the instrument in the hand of a Higher Power, and

he wore _jharun_ coats, like "the scoriac rivers that roll their

sulphurous torrents down Yahek, in the realms of the Boreal Pole,"

that made your temples throb when seen early in the morning. I will

introduce him to you some day if all goes well. He is worth knowing.

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


She was a person without invention. She used to get her ideas from the

men she captured, and this led to some eccentric changes of character.

For a month or two she would act _à la_ Madonna, and try Theo for a

change if she fancied Theo's ways suited her beauty. Then she would

attempt the dark and fiery Lilith, and so and so on, exactly as she

had absorbed the new notion. But there was always Mrs. Reiver--hard,

selfish, stupid Mrs. Reiver--at the back of each transformation. Mrs.

Hauksbee christened her the Magic Lantern on account of this borrowed

mutability. "It just depends upon the slide," said Mrs. Hauksbee. "The

case is the only permanent thing in the exhibition. But that, thank

Heaven, is getting old."

There was a Fancy Ball at Government House and Mrs. Reiver came

attired in some sort of '98 costume, with her hair pulled up to the

top of her head, showing the clear outline on the back of the neck

like the Récamier engravings. Mrs. Hauksbee had chosen to be loud, not

to say vulgar, that evening, and went as The Black Death--a curious

arrangement of barred velvet, black domino and flame-coloured satin

puffery coming up to the neck and the wrists, with one of those

shrieking keel-backed cicalas in the hair. The scream of the creature

made people jump. It sounded so unearthly in a ballroom.

I heard her say to some one: "Let me introduce you to Madame Récamier,"

and I saw a man dressed as Autolycus bowing to Mrs. Reiver, while The

Black Death looked more than usually saintly. It was a very pleasant

evening, and Autolycus and Madame Récamier--I heard her ask Autolycus

who Madame Récamier was, by the way--danced together ever so much.

Mrs. Hauksbee was in a meditative mood, but she laughed once or twice

in the back of her throat, and that meant trouble.

Autolycus was Trewinnard, the man whom Mrs. Mallowe had told Mrs.

Hauksbee about--the Platonic Paragon, as Mrs. Hauksbee called him. He

was amiable, but his moustache hid his mouth, and so he did not explain

himself all at once. If you stared at him, he turned his eyes away,

and through the rest of the dinner kept looking at you to see whether

you were looking again. He took stares as a tribute to his merits,

which were generally known and recognised. When he played billiards he

apologised at length between each bad stroke, and explained what would

have happened if the red had been somewhere else, or the bearer had

trimmed the third lamp, or the wind hadn't made the door bang. Also

he wriggled in his chair more than was becoming to one of his inches.

Little men may wriggle and fidget without attracting notice. It doesn't

suit big-framed men. He was the Main Girder Boom of the Kutcha, Pukka,

Bundobust and Benaoti Department and corresponded direct with the Three

Taped Bashaw. Every one knows what _that_ means. The men in his own

office said that where anything was to be gained, even temporarily, he

would never hesitate for a moment over handing up a subordinate to be

hanged and drawn and quartered. He didn't back up his underlings, and

for that reason they dreaded taking responsibility on their shoulders,

and the strength of the Department was crippled.

A weak Department can, and often does, do a power of good work simply

because its chief sees it through thick and thin. Mistakes may be

born of this policy, but it is safe and sounder than giving orders

which may be read in two ways and reserving to yourself the right of

interpretation according to subsequent failure or success. Offices

prefer administration to diplomacy. They are very like Empires.

Hatchett of the Almirah and Thannicutch--a vicious little

three-cornered Department that was always stamping on the toes of the

Elect--had the fairest estimate of Trewinnard, when he said: "I don't

believe he is as good as he is." They always quoted that verdict as

an instance of the blind jealousy of the Uncovenanted, but Hatchett

was quite right. Trewinnard was just as good and no better than Mrs.

Mallowe could make him; and she had been engaged on the work for three

years. Hatchett has a narrow-minded partiality for the more than

naked--the anatomised Truth--but he can gauge a man.

Trewinnard had been spoilt by over-much petting, and the devil of

vanity that rides nine hundred and ninety-nine men out of a thousand

made him behave as he did. He had been too long one woman's property;

and that belief will sometimes drive a man to throw the best things in

the world behind him, from rank perversity. Perhaps he only meant to

stray temporarily and then return, but in arranging for this excursion

he misunderstood both Mrs. Mallowe and Mrs. Reiver. The one made no

sign, she would have died first; and the other--well, the high-falutin

mindsome lay was her craze for the time being. She had never tried it

before and several men had hinted that it would eminently become her.

Trewinnard was in himself pleasant, with the great merit of belonging

to somebody else. He was what they call "intellectual," and vain to

the marrow. Mrs. Reiver returned his lead in the first, and hopelessly

out-trumped him in the second suit. Put down all that comes after this

to Providence or The Black Death.

Trewinnard never realised how far he had fallen from his allegiance

till Mrs. Reiver referred to some official matter that he had been

telling her about as "ours." He remembered then how that word had been

sacred to Mrs. Mallowe and how she had asked his permission to use it.

Opium is intoxicating, and so is whisky, but more intoxicating than

either to a certain build of mind is the first occasion on which a

woman--especially if she have asked leave for the "honour"--identifies

herself with a man's work. The second time is not so pleasant. The

answer has been given before, and the treachery comes to the top and

tastes coppery in the mouth.

Trewinnard swallowed the shame--he felt dimly that he was not doing

Mrs. Reiver any great wrong by untruth--and told and told and continued

to tell, for the snare of this form of open-heartedness is that no man,

unless he be a consummate liar, knows where to stop. The office door of

all others must be either open wide or shut tight with a _shaprassi_ to

keep off callers.

Mrs. Mallowe made no sign to show that she felt Trewinnard's desertion

till a piece of information that could only have come from _one_

quarter ran about Simla like quicksilver. She met Trewinnard at a

dinner. "Choose your _confidantes_ better, Harold," she whispered as

she passed him in the drawing-room. He turned salmon-colour, and swore

very hard to himself that Babu Durga Charan Laha must go--must go--must

go. He almost believed in that grey-headed old oyster's guilt.

And so another of those upside-down tragedies that we call a Simla

Season wore through to the end--from the Birthday Ball to the

"tripping" to Naldera and Kotghar. And fools gave feasts and wise men

ate them, and they were bidden to the wedding and sat down to bake, and

those who had nuts had no teeth and they staked the substance for the

shadow, and carried coals to Newcastle, and in the dark all cats were

grey, as it was in the days of the great Curé of Meudon.

Late in the year there developed itself a battle-royal between the

K.P.B. and B. Department and the Almirah and Thannicutch. Three columns

of this paper would be needed to supply you with the outlines of the

difficulty; and then you would not be grateful. Hatchett snuffed the

fray from afar and went into it with his teeth bared to the gums, while

his Department stood behind him solid to a man. They believed in him,

and their answer to the fury of men who detested him was: "Ah! But

you'll admit he's d----d right in what he says."

"The head of Trewinnard in a Government Resolution," said Hatchett,

and he told the _daftri_ to put a new pad on his blotter, and smiled

a bleak smile as he spread out his notes. Hatchett is a Thug in his

systematic way of butchering a man's reputation.

"What are you going to do?" asked Trewinnard's Department. "Sit tight,"

said Trewinnard, which was tantamount to saying "Lord knows." The

Department groaned and said: "Which of us poor beggars is to be Jonahed

_this_ time?" They knew Trewinnard's vice.

The dispute was essentially not one for the K.P.B. and B. under its

then direction to fight out. It should have been compromised, or at the

worst sent up to the Supreme Government with a private and confidential

note directing justice into the proper paths.

Some people say that the Supreme Government is the Devil. It is more

like the Deep Sea. Anything that you throw into it disappears for

weeks, and comes to light hacked and furred at the edges, crusted with

weeds and shells and almost unrecognisable. The bold man who would dare

to give it a file of love-letters would be amply rewarded. It would

overlay them with original comments and marginal notes, and work them

piecemeal into D.O. dockets. Few things, from a setter or a whirlpool

to a sausage-machine or a hatching hen, are more interesting and

peculiar than the Supreme Government.

"What shall we do?" said Trewinnard, who had fallen from grace into

sin. "Fight," said Mrs. Reiver, or words to that effect; and no one

can say how far aimless desire to test her powers, and how far belief

in the man she had brought to her feet prompted the judgment. Of the

merits of the case she knew just as much as any _ayah_.

Then Mrs. Mallowe, upon an evil word that went through Simla, put on

her visiting-garb and attired herself for the sacrifice, and went to

call--to call upon Mrs. Reiver, knowing what the torture would be.

From half-past twelve till twenty-five minutes to two she sat, her

hand upon her cardcase, and let Mrs. Reiver stab at her, all for the

sake of the information. Mrs. Reiver double-acted her part, but she

played into Mrs. Mallowe's hand by this defect. The assumptions of

ownership, the little intentional slips, were overdone, and so also

was the pretence of intimate knowledge. Mrs. Mallowe never winced. She

repeated to herself: "And he has trusted this--this Thing. She knows

nothing and she cares nothing, and she has digged this trap for him."

The main feature of the case was abundantly clear. Trewinnard, whose

capacities Mrs. Mallowe knew to the utmost farthing, to whom public

and departmental petting were as the breath of his delicately-cut

nostrils--Trewinnard, with his nervous dread of dispraise, was

to be pitted against the Paul de Cassagnac of the Almirah and

Thannicutch--the unspeakable Hatchett, who fought with the venom of a

woman and the skill of a Red Indian. Unless his cause was triply just,

Trewinnard was already under the guillotine, and if he had been under

this "Thing's" dominance, small hope for the justice of his case. "Oh,

why did I let him go without putting out a hand to fetch him back?"

said Mrs. Mallowe, as she got into her 'rickshaw.

Now, _Tim_, her fox-terrier, is the only person who knows what Mrs.

Mallowe did that afternoon, and as I found him loafing on the Mall in

a very disconsolate condition and as he recognised me effusively and

suggested going for a monkey-hunt--a thing he had never done before--my

impression is that Mrs. Mallowe stayed at home till the light fell and

thought. If she did this, it is of course hopeless to account for her

actions. So you must fill in the gap for yourself.

That evening it rained heavily, and horses mired their riders. But not

one of all the habits was so plastered with mud as the habit of Mrs.

Mallowe when she pulled up under the scrub oaks and sent in her name by

the astounded bearer to Trewinnard. "Folly! downright folly!" she said

as she sat in the steam of the dripping horse. "But it's all a horrible

jumble together."

It may be as well to mention that ladies do not usually call upon

bachelors at their houses. Bachelors would scream and run away.

Trewinnard came into the light of the verandah with a nervous,

undecided smile upon his lips, and he wished--in the bottomless bottom

of his bad heart--he wished that Mrs. Reiver was there to see. A minute

later he was profoundly glad that he was alone, for Mrs. Mallowe was

standing in his office room and calling him names that reflected no

credit on his intellect. "What have you done? What have you said?" she

asked. "Be quick! Be _quick_! And have the horse led round to the back.

Can you speak? What have you written? Show me!"

She had interrupted him in the middle of what he was pleased to call

his reply; for Hatchett's first shell had already fallen in the camp.

He stood back and offered her the seat at the _duftar_ table. Her elbow

left a great wet stain on the baize, for she was soaked through and


"Say exactly how the matter stands," she said, and laughed a weak

little laugh, which emboldened Trewinnard to say loftily: "Pardon me,

Mrs. Mallowe, but I hardly recognise your----"

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


Her most reverent admirers would hardly have recognised the

soft-spoken, slow-gestured, quiet-eyed Mrs. Mallowe in the indignant

woman who was drumming on Trewinnard's desk. He submitted to the voice

of authority, as he had submitted in the old times, and explained as

quickly as might be the cause of the war between the two Departments.

In conclusion he handed over the rough sheets of his reply. As she read

he watched her with the expectant sickly half-smile of the unaccustomed

writer who is doubtful of the success of his work. And another smile

followed, but died away as he saw Mrs. Mallowe read his production.

All the old phrases out of which she had so carefully drilled him had

returned; the unpruned fluency of diction was there, the more luxuriant

for being so long cut back; the reckless riotousness of assertion that

sacrificed all--even the vital truth that Hatchett would be so sure

to take advantage of--for the sake of scoring a point, was there; and

through and between every line ran the weak, wilful vanity of the man.

Mrs. Mallowe's mouth hardened.

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

Trewinnard stepped forward with a gesture habitual to him when he

wished to explain. Mrs. Reiver had never asked for explanations. She

had told him that all his ways were perfect. Therefore he loved her.

Mrs. Mallowe tore up the papers one by one, saying as she did so:

"_You_ were going to cross swords with Hatchett. Do you know your

own strength? Oh, Harold, Harold, it is _too_ pitiable! I thought--I

thought----" Then the great anger that had been growing in her broke

out, and she cried: "Oh, you fool! You blind, blind, _blind_, trumpery

fool! Why do I help you? Why do I have anything to do with you? You

miserable man! Sit down and write as I dictate. Quickly! And I had

chosen _you_ out of a hundred other _men_! Write!" It is a terrible

thing to be found out by a mere unseeing male--Thackeray has said it.

It is worse, far worse, to be found out by a woman, and in that hour

after long years to discover her worth. For ten minutes Trewinnard's

pen scratched across the paper, and Mrs. Mallowe spoke. "And that

is all," she said bitterly. "As you value yourself--your noble,

honourable, modest self--keep within that."

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


He rose from his chair and delivered his soul of many mad and futile

thoughts--such things as a man babbles when he is deserted of the gods,

has missed his hold upon the latch-door of Opportunity--and cannot see

that the ways are shut. Mrs. Mallowe bore with him to the end, and he

stood before her--no enviable creature to look upon.

"A cur as well as a fool!" she said. "Will you be good enough to

tell them to bring my horse? I do not trust to your honour--you have

none--but I believe that your sense of shame will keep you from

speaking of my visit."

So he was left in the verandah crying "Come back" like a distracted


       *       *       *       *       *

"He's done us in the eye," grunted Hatchett as he perused the K.P.B.

and B. reply. "Look at the cunning of the brute in shifting the issue

on to India in that carneying, blarneying way! Only wait until I can

get my knife into him again. I'll stop every bolt-hole before the hunt


       *       *       *       *       *

Oh, I believe I have forgotten to mention the success of Mrs.

Hauksbee's revenge. It was so brilliant and overwhelming that she had

to cry in Mrs. Mallowe's arms for the better part of half an hour;

and Mrs. Mallowe was just as bad, though she thanked Mrs. Hauksbee

several times in the course of the interview, and Mrs. Hauksbee said

that she would repent and reform, and Mrs. Mallowe said: "Hush, dear,

hush! I don't think either of us had anything to be proud of." And Mrs.

Hauksbee said: "Oh, but I didn't _mean_ it, Polly, I didn't _mean_ it!"

And I stood with my hat in my hand trying to make two very indignant

ladies understand that the bearer really _had_ given me "_salaam


That was an evil quarter minute.


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


  Tells how the Professor and I found the Precious Rediculouses and

  how they Chautauquaed at us. Puts into print some sentiments better

  left unrecorded, and proves that a neglected theory will blossom in

  congenial soil. Contains fragments of three lectures and a confession.

 "_But these, in spite of careful dirt,

   Are neither green nor sappy;

 Half conscious of the garden squirt,

   The Spendlings look unhappy._"

Out of the silence under the apple-trees the Professor spake. One leg

thrust from the hammock netting kicked lazily at the blue. There was

the crisp crunch of teeth in an apple core.

"Get out of this," said the Professor lazily. As it was on the

banks of the Hughli, so on the green borders of the Musquash and

the Ohio--eternal unrest, and the insensate desire to go ahead. I

was lapped in a very trance of peace. Even the apples brought no


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

"G'long out of this and go to Niagara," said the Professor in jerks.

"Spread the ink of description through the waters of the Horseshoe

falls--buy a papoose from the tame wild Indian who lives at the Clifton

House--take a fifty-cent ride on the _Maid of the Mist_--go over the

falls in a tub."

"Seriously, is it worth the trouble? Everybody who has ever been within

fifty miles of the falls has written his or her impressions. Everybody

who has never seen the falls knows all about them, and--besides, I want

some more apples. They're good in this place, ye big fat man," I quoted.

The Professor retired into his hammock for a while. Then he reappeared

flushed with a new thought. "If you want to see something quite new

let's go to Chautauqua."

"What's that?"

"Well, it's a sort of institution. It's an educational idea, and it

lives on the borders of a lake in New York State. I think you'll find

it interesting; and I know it will show you a new side of American


In blank ignorance I consented. Everybody is anxious that I should

see as many sides of American life as possible. Here in the East they

demand of me what I thought of their West. I dare not answer that it is

as far from their notions and motives as Hindustan from Hoboken--that

the West, to this poor thinking, is an America which has no kinship

with its neighbour. Therefore I congratulated them hypocritically upon

"their West," and from their lips learn that there is yet another

America, that of the South--alien and distinct. Into the third

country, alas! I shall not have time to penetrate. The newspapers and

the oratory of the day will tell you that all feeling between the

North and South is extinct. None the less the Northerner, outside his

newspapers and public men, has a healthy contempt for the Southerner

which the latter repays by what seems very like a deep-rooted aversion

to the Northerner. I have learned now what the sentiments of the great

American nation mean. The North speaks in the name of the country; the

West is busy developing its own resources, and the Southerner skulks in

his tents. His opinions do not count; but his girls are very beautiful.

So the Professor and I took a train and went to look at the educational

idea. From sleepy, quiet little Musquash we rattled through the coal

and iron districts of Pennsylvania, her coke ovens flaring into the

night and her clamorous foundries waking the silence of the woods in

which they lay. Twenty years hence woods and cornfields will be gone,

and from Pittsburg to Shenango all will be smoky black as Bradford

and Beverly: for each factory is drawing to itself a small town, and

year by year the demand for rails increases. The Professor held forth

on the labour question, his remarks being prompted by the sight of a

train-load of Italians and Hungarians going home from mending a bridge.

"You recollect the Burmese," said he. "The American is like the Burman

in one way. He won't do heavy manual labour. He knows too much.

Consequently he imports the alien to be his hands--just as the Burman

gets hold of the Madrassi. If he shuts down all labour immigration he

will have to fill up his own dams, cut his cuttings and pile his own

embankments. The American citizen won't like that. He is racially unfit

to be a labourer in _muttee_. He can invent, buy, sell and design, but

he cannot waste his time on earth-works. _Iswaste_, this great people

will resume contract labour immigration the minute they find the aliens

in their midst are not sufficient for the jobs in hand. If the alien

gives them trouble they will shoot him."

"Yes, they will shoot him," I said, remembering how only two days

before some Hungarians employed on a line near Musquash had seen fit

to strike and to roll down rocks on labourers hired to take their

places, an amusement which caused the sheriff to open fire with a

revolver and wound or kill (it really does not much matter which) two

or three of them. Only a man who earns ten pence a day in sunny Italy

knows how to howl for as many shillings in America.

The composition of the crowd in the cars began to attract my attention.

There were very many women and a few clergymen. Where you shall find

these two together, there also shall be a fad, a hobby, a theory, or a


"These people are going to Chautauqua," said the Professor. "It's a

sort of open-air college--they call it--but you'll understand things

better when you arrive." A grim twinkle in the back of his eye awakened

all my fears.

"Can you get anything to drink there?"


"Are you allowed to smoke?"

"Ye-es, in certain places."

"Are we staying there over Sunday?"

"_No._" This very emphatically.

Feminine shrieks of welcome: "There's Sadie!" "Why, Maimie, is that

yeou!" "Alf's in the smoker. Did you bring the baby?" and a profligate

expenditure of kisses between bonnet and bonnet told me we had struck

a gathering place of the clans. It was midnight. They swept us, this

horde of clamouring women, into a Black Maria omnibus and a sumptuous

hotel close to the borders of a lake--Lake Chautauqua. Morning

showed as pleasant a place of summer pleasuring as ever I wish to

see. Smooth-cut lawns of velvet grass, studded with tennis-courts,

surrounded the hotel and ran down to the blue waters, which were dotted

with rowboats. Young men in wonderful blazers, and maidens in more

wonderful tennis costumes; women attired with all the extravagance of

unthinking Chicago or the grace of Washington (which is Simla) filled

the grounds, and the neat French nurses and exquisitely dressed little

children ran about together. There was pickerel-fishing for such as

enjoyed it; a bowling-alley, unlimited bathing and a toboggan, besides

many other amusements, all winding up with a dance or a concert at

night. Women dominated the sham mediæval hotel, rampaged about the

passages, flirted in the corridors and chased unruly children off the

tennis-courts. This place was called Lakewood. It is a pleasant place

for the unregenerate.

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

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

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

All the shores of the lake, which is eighteen miles long, are dotted

with summer hotels, camps, boat-houses and pleasant places of rest. You

go there with all your family to fish and to flirt. There is no special

beauty in the landscape of tame cultivated hills and decorous, woolly

trees, but good taste and wealth have taken the place in hand, trimmed

its borders and made it altogether delightful.

The institution of Chautauqua is the largest village on the lake.

I can't hope to give you an idea of it, but try to imagine the

Charlesville at Mussoorie magnified ten times and set down in the

midst of hundreds of tiny little hill houses, each different from its

neighbour, brightly painted and constructed of wood. Add something of

the peace of dull Dalhousie, flavour with a tincture of missions and

the old Polytechnic, Cassell's Self Educator and a Monday pop, and

spread the result out flat on the shores of Naini Tal Lake, which you

will please transport to the Dun. But that does not half describe the

idea. We watched it through a wicket gate, where we were furnished with

a red ticket, price forty cents, and five dollars if you lost it. I

naturally lost mine on the spot and was fined accordingly.

Once inside the grounds on the paths that serpentined round the

myriad cottages I was lost in admiration of scores of pretty girls,

most of them with little books under their arms, and a pretty air

of seriousness on their faces. Then I stumbled upon an elaborately

arranged mass of artificial hillocks surrounding a mud puddle and a

wormy streak of slime connecting it with another mud puddle. Little

boulders topped with square pieces of putty were strewn over the

hillocks--evidently with intention. When I hit my foot against one such

boulder painted "Jericho," I demanded information in aggrieved tones.

"Hsh!" said the Professor. "It's a model of Palestine--the Holy

Land--done to scale and all that, you know."

Two young people were flirting on the top of the highest mountain

overlooking Jerusalem; the mud puddles were meant for the Dead Sea and

the Sea of Galilee, and the twisting gutter was the Jordan. A small boy

sat on the city "Safed" and cast his line into Chautauqua Lake. On the

whole it did not impress me. The hotel was filled with women, and a

large blackboard in the main hall set forth the exercises for the day.

It seemed that Chautauqua was a sort of educational syndicate, _cum_

hotel, _cum_ (very mild) Rosherville. There were annually classes of

young women and young men who studied in the little cottages for two

or three months in the year and went away to self-educate themselves.

There were other classes who learned things by correspondence, and yet

other classes made up the teachers. All these delights I had missed,

but had arrived just in time for a sort of debauch of lectures which

concluded the three months' education. The syndicate in control had

hired various lecturers whose names would draw audiences, and these men

were lecturing about the labour problem, the servant-girl question, the

artistic and political aspect of Greek life, the Pope in the Middle

Ages and similar subjects, in all of which young women do naturally

take deep delight. Professor Mahaffy (what the devil was he doing in

that gallery?) was the Greek art side man, and a Dr. Gunsaulus handled

the Pope. The latter I loved forthwith. He had been to some gathering

on much the same lines as the Chautauqua one, and had there been

detected, in the open daylight, smoking a cigar. One whole lighted

cigar. Then his congregation or his class, or the mothers of both of

them, wished to know whether this was the sort of conduct for a man

professing temperance. I have not heard Dr. Gunsaulus lecture, but he

must be a good man. Professor Mahaffy was enjoying himself. I sat close

to him at tiffin and heard him arguing with an American professor as

to the merits of the American Constitution. Both men spoke that the

table might get the benefit of their wisdom, whence I argued that even

eminent professors are eminently human.

"Now, for goodness' sake, behave yourself," said the Professor.

"You are not to ask the whereabouts of a bar. You are not to laugh

at anything you see, and you are not to go away and deride this


Remember that advice. But I was virtuous throughout, and my virtue

brought its own reward. The parlour of the hotel was full of committees

of women; some of them were Methodist Episcopalians, some were

Congregationalists, and some were United Presbyterians; and some were

faith healers and Christian Scientists, and all trotted about with

notebooks in their hands and the expression of Atlas on their faces.

They were connected with missions to the heathen, and so forth, and

their deliberations appeared to be controlled by a male missionary. The

Professor introduced me to one of them as their friend from India.

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

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

"You are a missionary, then?"

I had obeyed the Professor's orders all too well. "I am not a

missionary," I said, with, I trust, a decent amount of regret in

my tones. She dropped me and I went to find the Professor, who had

cowardly deserted me, and I think was laughing on the balcony. It is

very hard to persuade a denominational American that a man from India

is not a missionary. The home-returned preachers very naturally convey

the impression that India is inhabited solely by missionaries.

I heard some of them talking and saw how, all unconsciously, they were

hinting the thing which was not. But prejudice governs me against my

will. When a woman looks you in the face and pities you for having to

associate with "heathen" and "idolaters"--Sikh Sirdar of the north, if

you please, Mahommedan gentlemen and the simple-minded _Jat_ of the

Punjab--what can you do?

The Professor took me out to see the sights, and lest I should be

further treated as a denominational missionary I wrapped myself in

tobacco smoke. This ensures respectful treatment at Chautauqua.

An amphitheatre capable of seating five thousand people is the

centre-point of the show. Here the lecturers lecture and the concerts

are held, and from here the avenues start. Each cottage is decorated

according to the taste of the owner, and is full of girls. The

verandahs are alive with them; they fill the sinuous walks; they hurry

from lecture to lecture, hatless, and three under one sunshade; they

retail little confidences walking arm-in-arm; they giggle for all the

world like uneducated maidens, and they walk about and row on the lake

with their very young men. The lectures are arranged to suit all

tastes. I got hold of one called "The Eschatology of Our Saviour." It

set itself to prove the length, breadth and temperature of Hell from

information garnered from the New Testament. I read it in the sunshine

under the trees, with these hundreds of pretty maidens pretending to

be busy all round; and it did not seem to match the landscape. Then

I studied the faces of the crowd. One-quarter were old and worn; the

balance were young, innocent, charming and frivolous. I wondered how

much they really knew or cared for the art side of Greek life, or the

Pope in the Middle Ages; and how much for the young men who walked with

them. Also what their ideas of Hell might be. We entered a place called

a museum (all the shows here are of an improving tendency), which had

evidently been brought together by feminine hands, so jumbled were the

exhibits. There was a facsimile of the Rosetta stone, with some printed

popular information; an Egyptian camel saddle, miscellaneous truck

from the Holy Land, another model of the same, photographs of Rome,

badly-blotched drawings of volcanic phenomena, the head of the pike

that John Brown took to Harper's Ferry that time his soul went marching

on, casts of doubtful value, and views of Chautauqua, all bundled

together without the faintest attempt at arrangement, and all very

badly labelled.

It was the apotheosis of Popular Information. I told the Professor

so, and he said I was an ass, which didn't affect the statement in

the least. I have seen museums like Chautauqua before, and well I

know what they mean. If you do not understand, read the first part of

_Aurora Leigh_. Lectures on the Chautauqua stamp I have heard before.

People don't get educated that way. They must dig for it, and cry for

it, and sit up o' nights for it; and when they have got it they must

call it by another name or their struggle is of no avail. You can get

a degree from this Lawn Tennis Tabernacle of all the arts and sciences

at Chautauqua. Mercifully the students are women-folk, and if they

marry the degree is forgotten, and if they become school-teachers they

can only instruct young America in the art of mispronouncing his own

language. And yet so great is the perversity of the American girl that

she can, scorning tennis and the allurements of boating, work herself

nearly to death over the skittles of archæology and foreign tongues, to

the sorrow of all her friends.

Late that evening the contemptuous courtesy of the hotel allotted me

a room in a cottage of quarter-inch planking, destitute of the most

essential articles of toilette furniture. Ten shillings a day was the

price of this shelter, for Chautauqua is a paying institution. I heard

the Professor next door banging about like a big jack-rabbit in a very

small packing-case. Presently he entered, holding between disgusted

finger and thumb the butt end of a candle, his only light, and this in

a house that would burn quicker than cardboard if once lighted.

"Isn't it shameful? Isn't it atrocious? A dâk bungalow _khansamah_

wouldn't dare to give me a raw candle to go to bed by. I say, when you

describe this hole rend them to pieces. A candle stump! Give it 'em


You will remember the Professor's advice to me not long ago. "'Fessor,"

said I loftily (my own room was a windowless dog-kennel), "this

is unseemly. We are now in the most civilised country on earth,

enjoying the advantages of an Institootion which is the flower of the

civilisation of the nineteenth century; and yet you kick up a fuss over

being obliged to go to bed by the stump of a candle! Think of the Pope

in the Middle Ages. Reflect on the art side of Greek life. Remember

the Sabbath day to keep it holy, and get out of this. You're filling

two-thirds of my room."

       *       *       *       *       *

_Apropos_ of Sabbath, I have come across some lovely reading which

it grieves me that I have not preserved. Chautauqua, you must know,

shuts down on Sundays. With awful severity an eminent clergyman has

been writing to the papers about the beauties of the system. The

stalls that dispense terrible drinks of Moxie, typhoidal milk-shakes

and sulphuric-acid-on-lime-bred soda-water are stopped; boating is

forbidden; no steamer calls at the jetty, and the nearest railway

station is three miles off, and you can't hire a conveyance; the

barbers must not shave you, and no milkman or butcher goes his rounds.

The reverend gentleman enjoys this (he must wear a beard). I forget

his exact words, but they run: "And thus, thank God, no one can supply

himself on the Lord's day with the luxuries or conveniences that he has

neglected to procure on Saturday." Of course, if you happen to linger

inside the wicket gate--verily Chautauqua is a close preserve--over

Sunday, you must bow gracefully to the rules of the place. But what are

you to do with this frame of mind? The owner of it would send missions

to convert the "heathen," or would convert you at ten minutes' notice;

and yet if you called him a heathen and an idolater he would probably

be very much offended.

Oh, my friends, I have been to one source of the river of missionary

enterprise, and the waters thereof are bitter--bitter as hate, narrow

as the grave! Not now do I wonder that the missionary in the East is at

times, to our thinking, a little intolerant towards beliefs he cannot

understand and people he does not appreciate. Rather it is a mystery

to me that these delegates of an imperious ecclesiasticism have not

a hundred times ere this provoked murder and fire among our wards.

If they were true to the iron teachings of Centreville or Petumna or

Chunkhaven, when they came they would have done so. For Centreville or

Smithson or Squeehawken teach the only true creeds in all the world,

and to err from their tenets, as laid down by the bishops and the

elders, is damnation. How it may be in England at the centres of supply

I cannot tell, but shall presently learn. Here in America I am afraid

of these grim men of the denominations, who know so intimately the will

of the Lord and enforce it to the uttermost. Left to themselves they

would prayerfully, in all good faith and sincerity, slide gradually,

ere a hundred years, from the mental inquisitions which they now

work with some success to an institootion--be sure it would be an

"institootion" with a journal of its own--not far different from what

the Torquemada ruled aforetime. Does this seem extravagant? I have

watched the expression on the men's faces when they told me that they

would rather see their son or daughter dead at their feet than doing

such and such things--trampling on the grass on a Sunday, or something

equally heinous--and I was grateful that the law of men stood between

me and their interpretation of the law of God. They would assuredly

slay the body for the soul's sake and account it righteousness. And

this would befall not in the next generation, perhaps, but in the next,

for the very look I saw in a Eusufzai's face at Peshawar when he turned

and spat in my tracks I have seen this day at Chautauqua in the face of

a preacher. The will was there, but not the power.

The Professor went up the lake on a visit, taking my ticket of

admission with him, and I found a child, aged seven, fishing with a

worm and pin, and spent the rest of the afternoon in his company. He

was a delightful young citizen, full of information and apparently

ignorant of denominations. We caught sun fish and catfish and pickerel


The trouble began when I attempted to escape through the wicket on the

jetty and let the creeds fight it out among themselves. Without that

ticket I could not go, unless I paid five dollars. That was the rule to

prevent people cheating.

"You see," quoth a man in charge, "you've no idea of the meanness of

these people. Why, there was a lady this season--a prominent member of

the Baptist connection--we know, but we can't prove it that she had two

of her hired girls in a cellar when the grounds were being canvassed

for the annual poll-tax of five dollars a head. So she saved ten

dollars. We can't be too careful with this crowd. You've got to produce

that ticket as a proof that you haven't been living in the grounds for

weeks and weeks."

"For weeks and weeks!" The blue went out of the sky as he said it. "But

I wouldn't stay here for one week if I could help it," I answered.

"No more would I," he said earnestly.

Returned the Professor in a steamer, and him I basely left to make

explanations about that ticket, while I returned to Lakewood--the nice

hotel without any regulations. I feared that I should be kept in those

terrible grounds for the rest of my life.

And it turned out an hour later that the same fear lay upon the

Professor also. He arrived heated but exultant, having baffled the

combined forces of all the denominations and recovered the five-dollar

deposit. "I wouldn't go inside those gates for anything," he said. "I

waited on the jetty. What do you think of it all?"

"It has shown me a new side of American life," I responded. "I never

want to see it again--and I'm awfully sorry for the girls who take it

seriously. I suppose the bulk of them don't. They just have a good

time. But it would be better----"


"If they all got married instead of pumping up interest in a

bric-Ã -brac museum and advertised lectures, and having their names in

the papers. One never gets to believe in the proper destiny of woman

until one sees a thousand of 'em doing something different. I don't

like Chautauqua. There's something wrong with it, and I haven't time to

find out where. But it is wrong."


[Footnote 18: No. XXXIX appeared in the "Pioneer Mail," Vol. XVII, No.

14, April 2, 1890.]


"See those things yonder?" He looked in the direction of the Market

Street cable-cars which, moved without any visible agency, were

conveying the good people of San Francisco to a picnic somewhere

across the harbour. The stranger was not more than seven feet high.

His face was burnished copper, his hands and beard were fiery red and

his eyes a baleful blue. He had thrust his large frame into a suit of

black clothes which made no pretensions toward fitting him, and his

cheek was distended with plug-tobacco. "Those cars," he said, more to

himself than to me, "run upon a concealed cable worked by machinery,

and that's what broke our syndicate at Bow Flume. Concealed machinery,

no--concealed ropes. Don't you mix yourself with them. They are


"These cars work comfortably," I ventured. "They run over people now

and then, but that doesn't matter."

"Certainly not, not in 'Frisco--by no means. It's different out

yonder." He waved a palm-leaf fan in the direction of Mission

Dolores among the sandhills. Then without a moment's pause, and in

a low and melancholy voice, he continued: "Young feller, all patent

machinery is a monopoly, and don't you try to bust it or else it will

bust you. 'Bout five years ago I was at Bow Flume--a minin'-town

way back yonder--beyond the Sacramento. I ran a saloon there with

O'Grady--Howlin' O'Grady, so called on account of the noise he made

when intoxicated. I never christened my saloon any high-soundin'

name, but owing to my happy trick of firing out men who was too full

of bug-juice and disposed to be promiscuous in their dealin's, the

boys called it 'The Wake Up an' Git Bar.' O'Grady, my partner, was an

unreasonable inventorman. He invented a check on the whisky bar'ls

that wasn't no good except lettin' the whisky run off at odd times and

shutting down when a man was most thirstiest. I remember half Bow Flume

city firing their six-shooters into a cask--and Bourbon at that--which

was refusing to run on account of O'Grady's patent double-check tap.

But that wasn't what I started to tell you about--not by a long ways.

O'Grady went to 'Frisco when the Bow Flume saloon was booming. He hed

a good time in 'Frisco, kase he came back with a very bad head and no

clothes worth talkin' about. He had been jailed most time, but he had

investigated the mechanism of these cars yonder--when he wasn't in the

cage. He came back with the liquor for the saloon, and the boys whooped

round him for half a day, singing songs of glory. 'Boys,' says O'Grady,

when a half of Bow Flume were lying on the floor kissing the cuspidors

and singing 'Way Down the Swanee River,' being full of some new stuff

O'Grady had got up from 'Frisco--'boys,' says O'Grady, 'I have the

makings of a company in me. You know the road from this saloon to Bow

Flume is bad and 'most perpendicular.' That was the exact state of

the case. Bow Flume city was three hundred feet above our saloon. The

boys used to roll down and get full, and any that happened to be sober

rolled them up again when the time came to get. Some dropped into the

cañon that way--bad payers mostly. You see, a man held all the hill

Bow Flume was built on, and he wanted forty thousand dollars for a

forty-five by hundred lot o' ground. We kept the whisky and the boys

came down for it. The exercise disposed them to thirst. 'Boys,' says

O'Grady, 'as you know, I have visited the great metropolis of 'Frisco.'

Then they had drinks all round for 'Frisco. 'And I have been jailed a

few while enjoying the sights.' Then they had drinks all round for the

jail that held O'Grady. 'But,' he says, 'I have a proposal to make.'

More drinks on account of the proposal. 'I have got a hold of the idea

of those 'Frisco cable-cars. Some of the idea I got in 'Frisco. The

rest I have invented,' says O'Grady. Then they drank all round for the


"I am coming to the point. O'Grady made a company--the drunkest I ever

saw--to run a cable-car on the 'Frisco model from 'Wake Up an' Git

Saloon' to Bow Flume. The boys put in about four thousand dollars,

for Bow Flume was squirling gold then. There's nary shanty there now.

O'Grady put in four thousand dollars of his own, and I was roped in for

as much. O'Grady desired the concern to represent the resources of Bow

Flume. We got a car built in 'Frisco for two thousand dollars, with an

elegant bar at one end--nickel-plated fixings and ruby glass.

"The notion was to dispense liquor _en route_. A Bow Flume man could

put himself outside two drinks in a minute and a half, the same not

being pressed for urgent business. The boys graded the road for love,

and we run a rope in a little trough in the middle. That rope ran

swift, and any blame fool that had his foot cut off, fooling in the

middle of the road, might ha' found salvation by using our Bow Flume

Palace Car. The boys said that was square. O'Grady took the contract

for building the engine to wind the rope. He called his show a mule--it

was a crossbreed between a threshing machine and an elevator ram.

I don't think he had followed the 'Frisco patterns. He put all our

dollars into that blamed barroom on the car, knowing what would please

the boys best. They didn't care much about the machinery, so long as

the car hummed.

"We charged the boys a dollar a head per trip. One free drink included.

That paid--paid like--Paradise. They liked the motion. O'Grady was

engineer, and another man sort of tended to the rope engine when he

wasn't otherwise engaged. Those cable-cars run by gripping on to the

rope. You know that. When the grip's off the car is braked down and

stands still. There ought to have been two cars by right--one to run up

and the other down. But O'Grady had a blamed invention for reversing

the engine, so the cable ran both ways--up to Bow Flume and down to

the saloon--the terminus being in front of our door. A man could kick

a friend slick from the bar into the car. The boys appreciated that.

The Bow Flume Palace Car Company earned twenty on the hundred in three

months, besides the profits of the drinks. We might have lasted to this

day if O'Grady hadn't tinkered his blamed engine up on top of Bow Flume

Hill. The boys complained the show didn't hum sufficient. They required

railroad speed. O'Grady ran 'em up and down at fourteen miles an hour;

and his latest improvement was to touch twenty-four. The strain on the

brakes was terrible--quite terrible. But every time O'Grady raised the

record, the boys gave him a testimonial. 'Twasn't in human nature not

to crowd ahead after that. Testimonials demoralise the publickest of


"I rode on the car that memorial day. Just as we started with a double

load of boys and a razzle-dazzle assortment of drinks, something

went _zip_ under the car bottom. We proceeded with velocity. All the

prominent members of the company were aboard. 'The grip has got

snubbed on the rope,' says O'Grady quite quietly. 'Boys, this will

be the biggest smash on record. Something's going to happen.' We

proceeded at the rate of twenty-four miles an hour till the end of

our journey. I don't know what happened there. We could get clear of

the rope anyways at the point where it turned round a pulley to start

up hill again. We struck--struck the stoop of the 'Wake Up an' Git

Saloon'--_my_ saloon--and the next thing I knew was feeling of my legs

under an assortment of matchwood and broken glass, representing liquor

and fixtures to the tune of eight thousand. The car had been flicked

through the saloon, bringing down the entire roof on the floor. It

had then bucked out into the firmament, describing a parabola over

the bluff at the back of the saloon, and was lying at the foot of

that bluff, three hundred feet below, like a busted kaleidoscope--all

nickel, shavings and bits of red glass. O'Grady and most of the

prominent members of the company were dead--very dead--and there wasn't

enough left of the saloon to pay for a drink. I took in the situation

lying on my stomach at the edge of the bluff, and I suspicioned that

any lawsuits that might arise would be complicated by shooting. So I

quit Bow Flume by the back trail. I guess the coroner judged that there

were no summons--leastways I never heard any more about it. Since that

time I've had a distrust to cable-cars. The rope breaking is no great

odds, bekase you can stop the car, but it's getting the grip tangled

with the running rope that spreads ruin and desolation over thriving

communities and prevents the development of local resources."


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


  _The 'buses run to Battersea,

        The 'buses run to Bow,

      The 'buses run to Westbourne Grove,

        And Nottinghill also;

  But I am sick of London town,

    From Shepherd's Bush to Bow._

  I see the smut upon my cuff

    And feel him on my nose;

  I cannot leave my window wide

    When gentle zephyr blows,

  Because he brings disgusting things

    And drops 'em on my "clo'es."

  The sky, a greasy soup-toureen,

    Shuts down atop my brow.

  Yes, I have sighed for London town

    And I have got it now:

  And half of it is fog and filth,

    And half is fog and row.

  And when I take my nightly prowl,

    'Tis passing good to meet

  The pious Briton lugging home

    His wife and daughter sweet,

  Through four packed miles of seething vice,

    Thrust out upon the street.

  Earth holds no horror like to this

    In any land displayed,

  From Suez unto Sandy Hook,

    From Calais to Port Said;

  And 'twas to hide their heathendom

    The beastly fog was made.

  I cannot tell when dawn is near,

    Or when the day is done,

  Because I always see the gas

    And never see the sun,

  And now, methinks, I do not care

    A cuss for either one.

  But stay, there was an orange, or

    An aged egg its yolk;

  It might have been a Pears' balloon

    Or Barnum's latest joke:

  I took it for the sun and wept

    To watch it through the smoke.

  It's Oh to see the morn ablaze

    Above the mango-tope,

  When homeward through the dewy cane

    The little jackals lope,

  And half Bengal heaves into view,

    New-washed--with sunlight soap.

  It's Oh for one deep whisky peg

    When Christmas winds are blowing,

  When all the men you ever knew,

    And all you've ceased from knowing,

  Are "entered for the Tournament,

    And everything that's going."

  But I consort with long-haired things

    In velvet collar-rolls,

  Who talk about the Aims of Art,

    And "theories" and "goals,"

  And moo and coo with women-folk

    About their blessed souls.

  But that they call "psychology"

    Is lack of liver pill,

  And all that blights their tender souls

    Is eating till they're ill,

  And their chief way of winning goals

    Consists in sitting still.

  It's Oh to meet an Army man,

    Set up, and trimmed and taut,

  Who does not spout hashed libraries

    Or think the next man's thought,

  And walks as though he owned himself,

    And hogs his bristles short.

  Hear now, a voice across the seas

    To kin beyond my ken,

  If ye have ever filled an hour

    With stories from my pen,

  For pity's sake send some one here

    To bring me news of men!

  _The 'buses run to Islington,

    To Highgate and Soho,

  To Hammersmith and Kew therewith,

    And Camberwell also,

  But I can only murmur "'Bus"

    From Shepherd's Bush to Bow._


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



 To Lieutenant John McHail,

 151st (Kumharsen) P.N.I.,

   _Hakaiti via Tharanda_,


Dear Old Man: Your handwriting is worse than ever, but as far as I can

see among the loops and fish-hooks, you are lonesome and want to be

comforted with a letter. I knew you wouldn't write to me unless you

needed something. You don't tell me that you have left your regiment,

but from what you say about "my battalion," "my men," and so forth, it

seems as if you were raising military police for the benefit of the

Chins. If that's the case, I congratulate you. The pay is good. Ouless

writes to me from some new fort something or other, saying that he

has struggled into a billet of Rs. 700 (Military Police), and instead

of being chased by writters as he used to be, is ravaging the country

round Shillong in search of a wife. I am very sorry for the Mrs. Ouless

of the future.

That doesn't matter. You probably know more about the boys yonder than

I do. If you'll only send me from time to time some record of their

movements I'll try to tell you of things on this side of the water. You

say "You don't know what it is to hear from town." I say "You don't

know what it is to hear from the _dehat_." Now and again men drift

in with news, but I don't like hot-weather _khubber_. It's all of

the domestic occurrence kind. Old "Hat" Constable came to see me the

other day. You remember the click in his throat before he begins to

speak. He sat still, clicking at quarter-hour intervals, and after each

click he'd say: "D'ye remember Mistress So-an'-So? Well, she's dead o'

typhoid at Naogong." When it wasn't "Mistress So-an'-So" it was a man.

I stood four clicks and four deaths, and then I asked him to spare me

the rest. You seem to have had a bad season, taking it all round, and

the women seem to have suffered most. Is that so?

We don't die in London. We go out of town, and we make as much fuss

about it as if we were going to the Neva. Now I understand why the

transport is the first thing to break down when our army takes the

field. The Englishman is cumbrous in his movements and very particular

about his baskets and hampers and trunks--not less than seven of

each--for a fifty-mile journey. Leave season began some weeks ago, and

there is a _burra-choop_ along the streets that you could shovel with

a spade. All the people that say they are everybody have gone--quite

two hundred miles away. Some of 'em are even on the Continent--and the

clubs are full of strange folk. I found a Reform man at the Savage a

week ago. He didn't say what his business was, but he was dusty and

looked hungry. I suppose he had come in for food and shelter.

Like the rest I'm on leave too. I converted myself into a Government

Secretary, awarded myself one month on full pay with the chance of an

extension, and went off. Then it rained and hailed, and rained again,

and I ran up and down this tiny country in trains trying to find a dry

place. After ten days I came back to town, having been stopped by the

sea four times. I was rather like a kitten at the bottom of a bucke

chasing its own tail. So I'm sitting here under a grey, muggy sky

wondering what sort of time they are having at Simla. It's August now.

The rains would be nearly over, all the theatricals would be in full

swing, and Jakko Hill would be just Paradise. You're probably pink with

prickly heat. Sit down quietly under the punkah and think of Umballa

station, hot as an oven at four in the morning. Think of the dak-gharry

slobbering in the wet, and the first little cold wind that comes round

the first corner after the tonga is clear of Kalka. There's a wind

you and I know well. It's blowing over the grass at Dugshai this

very moment, and there's a smell of hot fir trees all along and along

from Solon to Simla, and some happy man is flying up that road with

fragments of a tonga-bar in his eye, his pet terrier under his arm, his

thick clothes on the back-seat and the certainty of a month's pure joy

in front of him. _Instead of which_ you're being stewed at Hakaiti and

I'm sitting in a second-hand atmosphere above a sausage-shop, watching

three sparrows playing in a dirty-green tree and pretending that it's

summer. I have a view of very many streets and a river. Except the

advertisements on the walls, there isn't one speck of colour as far

as my eye can reach. The very cat, who is an amiable beast, comes

off black under my hand, and I daren't open the window for fear of

smuts. And this is better than a soaked and sobbled country, with the

corn-shocks standing like plover's eggs in green moss and the oats

lying flat in moist lumps. We haven't had any summer, and yesterday I

smelt the raw touch of the winter. Just one little whiff to show that

the year had turned. "Oh, what a happy land is England!"

I cannot understand the white man at home. You remember when we went

out together and landed at the Apollo Bunder with all our sorrows

before us, and went to Watson's Hotel and saw the snake-charmers? You

said: "It'll take me all my lifetime to distinguish one nigger from

another." That was eight years ago. Now you don't call them niggers

any more, and you're supposed--quite wrongly--to have an insight into

native character, or else you would never have been allowed to recruit

for the Kumharsens. I feel as I felt at Watson's. They are so deathlily

alike, especially the more educated. They all seem to read the same

books, and the same newspapers telling 'em what to admire in the same

books, and they all quote the same passages from the same books, and

they write books on books about somebody else's books, and they are

penetrated to their boot-heels with a sense of the awful seriousness

of their own views of the moment. Above that they seem to be, most

curiously and beyond the right of ordinary people, divorced from the

knowledge or fear of death. Of course, every man conceives that every

man except himself is bound to die (you remember how Hallatt spoke the

night before he went out), but these men appear to be like children in

that respect.

I can't explain exactly, but it gives an air of unreality to their

most earnest earnestnesses; and when a young man of views and culture

and aspirations is in earnest, the trumpets of Jericho are silent

beside him. Because they have everything done for them they know how

everything ought to be done; and they are perfectly certain that wood

pavements, policemen, shops and gaslight come in the regular course

of nature. You can guess with these convictions how thoroughly and

cocksurely they handle little trifles like colonial administration, the

wants of the army, municipal sewage, housing of the poor, and so forth.

Every third common need of average men is, in their mouths, a tendency

or a movement or a federation affecting the world. It never seems to

occur to 'em that the human instinct of getting as much as possible for

money paid, or, failing money, for threats and fawnings, is about as

old as Cain; and the burden of their _bat_ is: "Me an' a few mates o'

mine are going to make a new world."

As long as men only write and talk they must think that way, I suppose.

It's compensation for playing with little things. And that reminds me.

Do you know the University smile? You don't by that name, but sometimes

young civilians wear it for a very short time when they first come

out. Something--I wonder if it's our brutal chaff, or a billiard-cue,

or which?--takes it out of their faces, and when they next differ with

you they do so without smiling. But that smile flourishes in London.

I've met it again and again. It expresses tempered grief, sorrow at

your complete inability to march with the march of progress at the

Universities, and a chastened contempt. There is one man who wears it

as a garment. He is frivolously young--not more than thirty-five or

forty--and all these years no one has removed that smile. He knows

everything about everything on this earth, and above all he knows all

about men under any and every condition of life. He knows all about

the aggressive militarism of you and your friends; he isn't quite sure

of the necessity of an army; he is certain that colonial expansion

is nonsense; and he is more than certain that the whole step of all

our Empire must be regulated by the knowledge and foresight of the

workingman. Then he smiles--smiles like a seraph with an M.A. degree.

What can you do with a man like that? He has never seen an unmade road

in his life; I think he believes that wheat grows on a tree and that

beef is dug from a mine. He has never been forty miles from a railway,

and he has never been called upon to issue an order to anybody except

his well-fed servants. Isn't it wondrous? And there are battalions

and brigades of these men in town removed from the fear of want,

living until they are seventy or eighty, sheltered, fed, drained and

administered, expending their vast leisure in talking and writing.

But the real fun begins much lower down the line. I've been associating

generally and very particularly with the men who say that they are

the only men in the world who work--and they call themselves _the_

workingman. Now the workingman in America is a nice person. He says he

is a man and behaves accordingly. That is to say, he has some notion

that he is part and parcel of a great country. At least, he talks that

way. But in this town you can see thousands of men meeting publicly

on Sundays to cry aloud that everybody may hear that they are poor,

downtrodden helots--in fact, "the pore workin'man." At their clubs and

pubs the talk is the same. It's the utter want of self-respect that

revolts. My friend the tobacconist has a cousin, who is, apparently,

sound in mind and limb, aged twenty-three, clear-eyed and upstanding.

He is a "skibbo" by trade--a painter of sorts. He married at twenty,

and he has two children. He can spend three-quarters of an hour talking

about his downtrodden condition. He works under another _Raj-mistri_,

who has saved money and started a little shop of his own. He hates that

_Raj-mistri_; he loathes the police; and his views on the lives and

customs of the aristocracy are strange. He approves of every form of

lawlessness, and he knows that everybody who holds authority is sure

to be making a good thing out of it. Of himself as a citizen he never

thinks. Of himself as an Ishmael he thinks a good deal. He is entitled

to eight hours' work a day and some time off--said time to be paid for;

he is entitled to free education for his children--and he doesn't want

no bloomin' clergyman to teach 'em; he is entitled to houses especially

built for himself because he pays the bulk of the taxes of the country.

He is not going to emigrate, not he; he reserves to himself the right

of multiplying as much as he pleases; the streets must be policed for

him while he demonstrates, immediately under my window, by the way, for

ten consecutive hours, and _I_ am probably a thief because my clothes

are better than his. The proposition is a very simple one. He has no

duties to the State, no personal responsibility of any kind, and he'd

sooner see his children dead than soldiers of the Queen. The Government

owes him everything because he is a pore workin'man. When the Guards

tried their Board-school mutiny at the Wellington Barracks my friend

was jubilant. "What did I tell you?" he said. "You see the very

soldiers won't stand it."

"What's it?"

"Bein' treated like machines instead of flesh and blood. 'Course they


The popular evening paper wrote that the Guards, with perfect justice,

had rebelled against being treated like machines instead of flesh and

blood. Then I thought of a certain regiment that lay in Mian Mir for

three years and dropped four hundred men out of a thousand. It died of

fever and cholera. There were no pretty nursemaids to work with it in

the streets, because there were no streets. I saw how the Guards amused

themselves and how their sergeants smoked in uniform. I pitied the

Guards with their cruel sentry-goes, their three nights out of bed,

and their unlimited supply of love and liquor.

Another man, not a workman, told me that the Guards' riot--it's

impossible, as you know, to call this kick-up of the fatted flunkies

of the army a mutiny--was only "a schoolboy's prank"; and he could not

see that if it was what he said it was, the Guards were no regiment

and should have been wiped out decently and quietly. There again the

futility of a sheltered people cropped up. You mustn't treat a man like

a machine in this country, but you can't get any work out of a man till

he has learned to work like a machine. D---- has just come home for a

few months from the charge of a mountain battery on the frontier. He

used to begin work at eight, and he was thankful if he got off at six;

most of the time on his feet. When he went to the Black Mountain he was

extensively engaged for nearly sixteen hours a day; and that on food

at which the "pore workin'man" would have turned up his state-lifted

nose. D---- on the subject of labour as understood by the white man in

his own home is worth hearing. Though coarse--considerably coarse! But

D---- doesn't know all the hopeless misery of the business. When the

small pig, oyster, furniture, carpet, builder or general shopman works

his way out of the ruck he turns round and makes his old friends and

employes sweat. He knows how near he can go to flaying 'em alive before

they kick; and in this matter he is neither better nor worse than a

_bunnia_ or a _havildar_ of our own blessed country. It's the small

employer of labour that skins his servant, exactly as the forty-pound

householder works her one white servant to the bone and goes to drop

pennies into the plate to convert the heathen in the East.

Just at present, as you have read, the person who calls himself the

pore workin'man--the man I saw kicking fallen men in the mud by the

docks last winter--has discovered a real, fine, new original notion;

and he is working it for all he is worth. He calls it the solidarity

of labour _bundobast_; but it's caste--four thousand years old, caste

of Menu--with old _shetts_, _mahajuns_, guildtolls, excommunication

and all the rest of it. All things considered, there isn't anything

much older than caste--it began with the second generation of man on

earth--but to read the "advance" papers on the subject you'd imagine it

was a revelation from Heaven. The real fun will begin--as it has begun

and ended many times before--when the caste of skilled labour--that's

the pore workin'man--are pushed up and knocked about by the lower and

unrecognised castes, who will form castes of their own and outcaste on

the decision of their own _punchayats_. How these castes will scuffle

and fight among themselves, and how astonished the Englishman will be!

He is naturally lawless because he is a fighting animal; and his

amazingly sheltered condition has made him inconsequent. I don't like

inconsequent lawlessness. I've seen it down at Bow Street, at the

docks, by the G.P.O., and elsewhere. Its chief home, of course, is in

that queer place called the House of Commons, but no one goes there who

isn't forced by business. It's shut up at present, and the persons

who belong to it are loose all over the face of the country. I don't

think--but I won't swear--that any of them are spitting at policemen.

One man appears to have been poaching, others are advocating various

forms of murder and outrage--and nobody seems to care. The residue

talk--just heavens, how they talk, and what wonderful fictions they

tell! And they firmly believe, being ignorant of the mechanism of

Government, that they administer the country. In addition, certain of

their newspapers have elaborately worked up a famine in Ireland that

could be engineered by two Deputy Commissioners and four average Stunts

into a "woe" and a "calamity" that is going to overshadow the peace of

the nation--even the Empire. I suppose they have their own sense of

proportion, but they manage to keep it to themselves very successfully.

What do you, who have seen half a countryside in deadly fear of its

life, suppose that this people would do if they were _chukkered_ and

_gabraowed_? If they really knew what the fear of death and the dread

of injury implied? If they died very swiftly, indeed, and could not

count their futile lives enduring beyond next sundown? Some of the men

from your--I mean our--part of the world say that they would be afraid

and break and scatter and run. But there is no room in the island to

run. The sea catches you, midwaist, at the third step. I am curious to

see if the cholera, of which these people stand in most lively dread,

gets a firm foothold in London. In that case I have a notion that

there will be scenes and panics. They live too well here, and have too

much to make life worth clinging to--clubs, and shop fronts, and gas,

and theatres, and so forth--things that they affect to despise, and

whereon and whereby they live like leeches. But I have written enough.

It doesn't exhaust the subject; but you won't be grateful for other

epistles. De Vitre of the Poona Irregular Moguls will have it that

they are a tiddy-iddy people. He says that all their visible use is

to produce loans for the colonies and men to be used up in developing

India. I honestly believe that the average Englishman would faint

if you told him it was lawful to use up human life for any purpose

whatever. He believes that it has to be developed and made beautiful

for the possessor, and in that belief talkatively perpetrates cruelties

that would make Torquemada jump in his grave. Go to Alipur if you want

to see. I am off to foreign parts--forty miles away--to catch fish for

my friend the char-cat; also to shoot a little bird if I have luck.


 Rudyard Kipling.


 To Captain J. McHail,

   151st (Kumharsen) N.I.,

     _Hakaiti via Tharanda_.

Captain Sahib Bahadur! The last _Pi_ gives me news of your step, and

I'm more pleased about it than many. You've been "cavalry quick" in

your promotion. Eight years and your company! Allahu! But it must have

been that long, lean horse-head of yours that looks so wise and says so

little that has imposed upon the authorities. My best congratulations.

Let out your belt two holes, and be happy, as I am not.

Did I tell you in my last about going to Woking in search of a grave?

The dust and the grime and the grey and the sausage-shop told on

my spirits to such an extent that I solemnly took a train and went

grave-hunting through the Necropolis--locally called the Necrapolis.

I wanted an eligible, entirely detached site in a commanding

position--six by three and bricked throughout. I found it, but the only

drawback was that I must go back to town to the head office to buy it.

One doesn't go to town to haggle for tomb-space, so I deferred the

matter and went fishing. All the same, there are very nice graves at

Woking, and I shall keep my eye on one of 'em.

Since that date I seem to have been in four or five places, because

there are labels on the bag. One of the places was Plymouth, where

I found half a regiment at field exercises on the Hoe. They were

practising the attack in three lines with the mixed rush at the end,

even as it is laid down in the drill-book, and they charged subduedly

across the Hoe. The people laughed. I was much more inclined to cry.

Except the Major, there didn't seem to be anything more than twenty

years old in the regiment; and oh! but it was pink and white and chubby

and undersized--just made to die succulently of disease. I fancied

that some of our battalions out with you were more or less young and

exposed, but a home battalion is a _crêche_, and it scares one to

watch it. Eminent and distinguished Generals get up after dinner--I've

listened to two of 'em--and explain that though the home battalion can

only be regarded as a feeder to the foreign, yet all our battalions can

be regarded as efficient; and if they aren't efficient we shall find

in our military reserve the nucleus--how I loath that lying word!--of

the Lord knows what, but the speeches always end with allusions to the

spirit of the English, their glorious past, and the certainty that when

the hour of need comes the nation will "emerge victorious." If (_sic_)

the Engineer of the Hungerford Bridge told the Southeastern Railway

that because a main girder had stood for thirty years without need of

renewal it was therefore sure to stand for another fifty, he would

probably get the sack. Our military authorities don't get the sack.

They are allowed to make speeches in public. Some day, if we live long

enough, we shall see the glories of the past and the "sublime instinct

of an ancient people" without one complete army corps, pitted against

a few unsentimental long-range guns and some efficiently organised

troops. Then the band will begin to play, and it will not play _Rule

Britannia_ until it has played some funny tunes first.

Do you remember Tighe? He was in the Deccan Lancers and retired because

he got married. He is in Ireland now, and I met him the other day,

idle, unhappy and dying for some work to do. Mrs. Tighe is equally

miserable. She wants to go back to Poona instead of administering a

big barrack of a house somewhere at the back of a bog. I quote Tighe

here. He has, you may remember, a pretty tongue about him, and he was

describing to me at length how a home regiment behaves when it is

solemnly turned out for a week or a month training under canvas:

"About four in the mornin', me dear boy, they begin pitchin' their

tents for the next day--four hours to pitch it, and the tent ropes a

howlin' tangle when all's said and sworn. Then they tie their horses

with strings to their big toes and go to bed in hollows and caves in

the earth till the rain falls and the tents are flooded, and then, me

dear boy, the men and the horses and the ropes and the vegetation of

the country cuddle each other till the morning for the company's sake.

And next day it all begins again. Just when they are beginning to

understand how to camp they are all put back into their boxes, and half

of 'em have lung disease."

But what is the use of snarling and grumbling? The matter will adjust

itself later on, and the one nation on earth that talks and thinks most

of the sanctity of human life will be a little astonished at the waste

of life for which it will be responsible. In those days, my captain,

the man who can command seasoned troops and have made the best use of

those troops will be sought after and petted and will rise to honour.

Remember the Hakaiti when next you measure the naked recruit.

Let us revisit calmer scenes. I've been down for three perfect days

to the seaside. Don't you remember what a really fine day means? A

milk-white sea, as smooth as glass, with blue-white heat haze hanging

over it, one little wave talking to itself on the sand, warm shingle,

four bathing machines, cliff in the background, and half the babies

in Christendom paddling and yelling. It was a queer little place,

just near enough to the main line of traffic to be overlooked from

morning till night. There was a baby--an Ollendorfian baby--with whom

I fell madly in love. She lived down at the bottom of a great white

sun-bonnet; talked French and English in a clear, bell-like voice, and

of such I fervently hope will the Kingdom of Heaven be. When she found

that my French wasn't equal to hers she condescendingly talked English

and bade me build her houses of stones and draw cats for her through

half the day. After I had done everything that she ordered she went

off to talk to some one else. The beach belonged to that baby, and

every soul on it was her servant, for I know that we rose with shouts

when she paddled into three inches of water and sat down, gasping:

"_Mon Dieu! Je suis mort!_" I know you like the little ones, so I

don't apologise for yarning about them. She had a sister aged seven

and one-half--a lovely child, without a scrap of self-consciousness,

and enormous eyes. Here comes a real tragedy. The girl--and her name

was Violet--had fallen wildly in love with a little fellow of nine.

They used to walk up the single street of the village with their arms

round each other's necks. Naturally, she did all the little wooings,

and Hugh submitted quietly. Then devotion began to pall, and he didn't

care to paddle with Violet. Hereupon, as far as I can gather, she

smote him on the head and threw him against a wall. Anyhow, it was

very sweet and natural, and Hugh told me about it when I came down.

"She's so unrulable," he said. "I didn't hit her back, but I was very

angry." Of course, Violet repented, but Hugh grew suspicious, and at

the psychological moment there came down from town a destroyer of

delights and a separator of companions in the shape of a tricycle.

Also there were many little boys on the beach--rude, shouting, romping

little chaps--who said: "Come along!" "Hullo!" and used the wicked word

"beastly!" Among these Hugh became a person of importance and began to

realise that he was a man who could say "beastly," and "Come on!" with

the best of 'em. He preferred to run about with the little boys on wars

and expeditions, and he wriggled away when Violet put her arm round

his waist. Violet was hurt and angry, and I think she slapped Hugh.

Relations were strained when I arrived because one morning Violet,

after asking permission, invited Hugh to come to lunch. And that bad,

Spanish-eyed boy deliberately filled his bucket with the cold sea-water

and dashed it over Violet's pink ankles. (Joking apart, this seems to

be about the best way of refusing an invitation that civilisation can

invent. Try it on your Colonel.) She was madly angry for a moment, and

then she said: "Let me carry you up the beach, 'cause of the shingles

in your toes." This was divine, but it didn't move Hugh, and Violet

went off to her mother. She sat down with her chin in her hand, looking

out at the sea for a long time very sorrowfully. Then she said, and

it was her first experience: "I know that Hugh cares more for his

horrid bicycle than he does for me, and if he said he didn't I wouldn't

believe him."

Up to date Hugh has said nothing. He is running about playing with the

bold, bad little boys, and Violet is sitting on a breakwater, trying

to find out why things are as they are. It's a nice tale, and tales

are scarce these days. Have you noticed how small and elemental is the

stock of them at the world's disposal? Men foregathered at that little

seaside place, and, manlike, exchanged stories. They were all the same

stories. One had heard 'em in the East with Eastern variations, and in

the West with Western extravagances tacked on. Only one thing seemed

new, and it was merely a phrase used by a groom in speaking of an

ill-conditioned horse: "No, sir; he's not ill in a manner o' speaking,

but he's so to speak generally unfriendly with his innards as a usual


I entrust this to you as a sacred gift. See that it takes root in the

land. "Unfriendly with his innards as a usual thing." Remember. It's

better than laboured explanations in the rains. And I fancy it's raw.

And now. But I had nearly forgotten. We're a nation of grumblers, and

that's why other people call Anglo-Indians bores. I write feelingly

because M----, just home on long leave, has for the second time sat on

my devoted head for two hours simply and solely for the purpose of

swearing at the Accountant-General. He has given me the whole history

of his pay, prospects and promotion twice over, and in case I should

misunderstand wants me to dine with him and hear it all for the third

time. If M---- would leave the A.-G. alone he is a delightful man,

as we all know; but he's loose in London now, button-holing English

friends and quoting leave and pay-codes to them. He wants to see

a Member of Parliament about something or other, and I believe he

spends his nights rolled up in a _rezai_ on the stairs of the India

Office waiting to catch a secretary. I like the India Office. They

are so beautifully casual and lazy, and their rooms look out over the

Green Park, and they are never tired of admiring the view. Now and

then a man comes in to report himself, and the secretaries and the

under-secretaries and the _chaprassies_ play battledore and shuttlecock

with him until they are tired.

Some time since, when I was better, more serious and earnest than I

am now, I preached a _jehad_ up and down those echoing corridors,

and suggested the abolition of the India Office and the purchase of a

four-pound-ten American revolving bookcase to hold all the documents on

India that were of public value or could be comprehended by the public.

Now I am more frivolous because I am dropping gently into that grave at

Woking; and yet I believe in the bookcase. India is bowed down with too

much _duftar_ as it is, and the House of Correction, Revision, Division

and Supervision cannot do her much good. I saw a committee or a council

file in the other day. Only one desirable tale came to me out of that

office. If you've heard it before stop me. It began with a cutting

from an obscure Welsh paper, I think. A man--a gardener--went mad,

announced that Lord Cross was the Messiah and burned himself alive on a

pile of garden refuse. That's the first part. I never could get at the

second, but I am credibly informed that the work of the India Office

stood still for three weeks, while the entire staff took council how to

break the news to the Secretary of State. I believe it still remains


       *       *       *       *       *

Decidedly, leave in England is a disappointing thing. I've wandered

into two stations since I wrote the last. Nothing but the labels on the

bag remain--oh, and a memory of a weighing-in at an East End fishing

club. That was an experience. I foregathered with a man on the top

of a 'bus, and we became great friends because we both agreed that

gorge-tackle for pike was only permissible in very weedy streams. He

repeated his views, which were my views, nearly ten times, and in

the evening invited me to this weighing-in, at, we'll say, rooms of

the Lea and Chertsey Piscatorial Anglers' Benevolent Brotherhood. We

assembled in a room at the top of a public-house, the walls ornamented

with stuffed fish and water-birds, and the anglers came in by twos and

threes, and I was introduced to all of 'em as "the gen'elman I met just

now." This seemed to be good enough for all practical purposes. There

were ten and five shilling prizes, and the affable and energetic clerk

of the scales behaved as though he were weighing-in for the Lucknow

races. The take of the day was one pound fifteen ounces of dace and

roach, about twenty fingerlings, and the winner, who is in charge of a

railway book-stall, described minutely how he had caught each fish. As

a matter of fact, roach-fishing in the Lea and Thames is a fine art.

Then there were drinks--modest little drinks--and they called upon me

for a sentiment. You know how things go at the sergeants' messes and

some of the lodges. In a moment of brilliant inspiration I gave "free

fishing in the parks" and brought down the whole house. Sah! free

fishing for coarse fish in the Serpentine and the Green Park water

would hurt nobody and do a great deal of good to many. The stocking

of the water--but what does this interest you? The Englishman moves

slowly. He is just beginning to understand that it is not sufficient

to set apart a certain amount of land for a lung of London and to turn

people into it with "There, get along and play," unless he gives 'em

something to play with. Thirty years hence he will almost allow _cafés_

and hired bands in Hyde Park.

To return for a moment to the fish club. I got away at eleven, and in

darkness and despair had to make my way west for leagues and leagues

across London. I was on the Mile End Road at midnight and there lost

myself, and learned something more about the policeman. He is haughty

in the East and always afraid that he is being chaffed. I honestly

only wanted sailing directions to get homeward. One policeman said:

"Get along. You know your way as well as I do." And yet another: "You

go back to the country where you comed from. You ain't doin' no good

'ere!" It was so deadly true that I couldn't answer back, and there

wasn't an expensive cab handy to prove my virtue and respectability.

Next time I visit the Lea and Chertsey Affabilities I'll find out

something about trains. Meantime I keep holiday dolefully. There is not

anybody to play with me. They have all gone away to their own places.

Even the Infant, who is generally the idlest man in the world, writes

me that he is helping to steer a ten-ton yacht in Scottish seas. When

she heels over too much the Infant is driven to the O.P. side and she

rights herself. The Infant's host says: "Isn't this bracing? Isn't this

delightful?" And the Infant, who lives in dread of a chill bringing

back his Indian fever, has to say "Ye-es," and pretend to despise


Wallah! This is a cheerful world.

 Rudyard Kipling.


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



This is a slim, thin little story, but it serves to explain a great

many things. I picked it up in a four-wheeler in the company of an

eminent novelist, a pink-eyed young gentleman who lived on his income,

and a gentleman who knew more than he ought; and I preserved it,

thinking it would serve to interest you. It may be an old story, but

the G.W.K.T.H.O., whom, for the sake of brevity, we will call Captain

Kydd, declared that his best friend had heard it himself. Consequently,

I doubted its newness more than ever. For when a man raises his voice

and vows that the incident occurred opposite his own Club window, all

the listening world know that they are about to hear what is vulgarly

called a cracker. This rule holds good in London as well as in Lahore.

When we left the house of the highly distinguished politician who had

been entertaining us, we stepped into a London Particular, which has

nothing whatever to do with the story, but was interesting from the

little fact that we could not see our hands before our faces. The

black, brutal fog had turned each gas-jet into a pin-prick of light,

visible only at six inches range. There were no houses, there were no

pavements. There were no points of the compass. There were only the

eminent novelist, the young gentleman with the pink eyes, Captain Kydd

and myself, holding each other's shoulders in the gloom of Tophet. Then

the eminent novelist delivered himself of an epigram.

"Let's go home," said he.

"Let us try," said Captain Kydd, and incontinently fell down an area

into somebody's kitchen yard and disappeared into chaos. When he

had climbed out again we heard a something on wheels swearing even

worse than Captain Kydd was, all among the railings of a square. So

we shouted, and presently a four-wheeler drove gracefully on to the


"I'm trying to get 'ome," said the cabby. "But if you gents make it

worth while ... though heaven knows 'ow we ever shall. Guess 'arf

a crown apiece might ... and any'ow I won't promise anywheres in


The cabby kept his word nobly. He did not find anywheres in particular,

but he found several places. First he discovered a pavement kerb and

drove pressing his wheel against it till we came to a lamp-post,

and that we hit grievously. Then he came to what ought to have been

a corner, but was a 'bus, and we embraced the thing amid terrific

language. Then he sailed out into nothing at all--blank fog--and there

he commended himself to heaven and his horse to the other place,

while the eminent novelist put his head out of the window and gave

directions. I begin to understand now why the eminent novelist's

villains are so lifelike and his plots so obscure. He has a marvellous

breadth of speech, but no ingenuity in directing the course of events.

We drove into the island of refuge near the Brompton Oratory just when

he was telling the cabby to be sure and avoid the Regents' Park Canal.

Then we began to talk about the weather and Mister Gladstone.

If an Englishman is unhappy he always talks about Mister

Gladstone in terms of reproof. The eminent novelist was a

socialistic-Neo-Plastic-Unionistic-Demagoglot Radical of the Extreme

Left, and that is the latest novelty of the thing yet invented. He

withdrew his head to answer Captain Kydd's arguments, which were

forcible. "Well, you'll admit he's all sorts of a madman," said Captain

Kydd sweetly.

"He's a saint," said the eminent novelist, "and he moves in an

atmosphere that you and those like you cannot breathe."

"Yes, I always said it was a pretty thick fog. Now I know it's as thick

as this one. I say, we're on the pavement again; we shall be in a shop

in a minute," said Captain Kydd.

But I wanted to see the eminent novelist fight, so I reintroduced

Mister Gladstone while the cab crawled up a wall.

"It's not exactly a wholesome atmosphere," said Captain Kydd when the

novelist had finished speaking. "That reminds me of a story--perfectly

true story. In the old days, before he went off his chump--"

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

"--went off his nut, he used to consort a good deal with his friends

on his own side--visit 'em, y' know, and deliver addresses out of

their own bedroom windows, and steal their postcards, and generally be

friendly. Well, one man he stayed with had a house, a country house, y'

know, and in the garden there was a path which was supposed to divide

Kent and Surrey or some counties. They led the old man forth for his

walk, y' know, and followed him in gangs to hear that the weather was

fine, and of course his host pointed out the path, the old man took in

the situation, and put one I daresay they had strewn rose-leaves on it,

or spread it with homespun trousers. Anyhow, one leg on one side of

the path and the other on the other, and with one of those wonderful

flashes of humour that come to him when he chooses to frisk among his

friends, he said: 'Now I am in Kent and in Surrey at the same time.'"

Captain Kydd ceased speaking as the cab tried to force a way into the

South Kensington Museum.

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

"Oh, nothing much. Let's see how it goes afterwards. Mrs. Gladstone,

who was close behind him, turned round and whispered to the hostess in

an ecstatic shriek: 'Oh, Mrs. Whateverhernamewas, you _will_ plant a

tree there, won't you?'"

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

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

I said nothing, but it seemed very likely. Captain Kydd laughed: "Well,

I don't consider that sort of atmosphere exactly wholesome, y' know."

And when the cab had landed us in the drinking-fountain in High Street,

Kensington, and the horse fell down, and the cabby collected our

half-crowns and gave us his beery blessing, and I had to grope my way

home on foot, it occurred to me that perhaps you might be interested

in that anecdote. As I have said, it explains a great deal more than

appears at first sight.


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


Two awful catastrophes have occurred. One Englishman in London is dead,

and I have scandalised about twenty of his nearest and dearest friends.

He was a man nearly seventy years old, engaged in the business of an

architect, and immensely respected. That was all I knew about him till

I began to circulate among his friends in these parts, trying to cheer

them up and make them forget the fog.

"Hush!" said a man and his wife. "Don't you know he died yesterday of a

sudden attack of pneumonia? Isn't it shocking?"

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


"Oh, he's very well off indeed, and his wife is quite old. But just

think--it was only in the next street it happened!" Then I saw that

their grief was not for Strangeways, deceased, but for themselves.

"How old was he?" I said.

"Nearly seventy, or maybe a little over."

"About time for a man to rationally expect such a thing as death," I

thought, and went away to another house, where a young married couple


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


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

"Yes, but it was such a shockingly short illness. Why, only three weeks

ago he was walking about the street." And she looked nervously at her

husband, as though she expected him to give up the ghost at any minute.

Then I gathered, with the knowledge of the length of his sickness, that

her grief was not for the late Mr. Strangeways, and went away thinking

over men and women I had known who would have given a thousand years in

Purgatory for even a week wherein to arrange their affairs, and who

were anything but well off.

I passed on to a third house full of children, and the shadow of death

hung over their heads, for father and mother were talking of Mr.

Strangeway's "end." "Most shocking," said they. "It seems that his wife

was in the next room when he was dying, and his only son called her,

so she just had time to take him in her arms before he died. He was

unconscious at the last. Wasn't it awful?"

When I went away from that house I thought of men and women without

a week wherein to arrange their affairs, and without any money, who

were anything but unconscious at the last, and who would have given a

thousand years in Purgatory for one glimpse at their mothers, their

wives or their husbands. I reflected how these people died tended by

hirelings and strangers, and I was not in the least ashamed to say

that I laughed over Mr. Strangeways' death as I entered the house of a

brother in his craft.

"Heard of Strangeways' death?" said he. "Most hideous thing. Why, he

had only a few days before got news of his designs being accepted by

the Burgoyne Cathedral. If he had lived he would have been working out

the details now--with me." And I saw that this man's fear also was not

on account of Mr. Strangeways. And I thought of men and women who had

died in the midst of wrecked work; then I sought a company of young

men and heard them talk of the dead. "That's the second death among

people I know within the year," said one. "Yes, the second death," said


I smiled a very large smile.

"And you know," said a third, who was the oldest of the party, "they've

opened the new road by the head of Tresillion Road, and the wind

blows straight across that level square from the Parks. Everything is

changing about us."

"He was an old man," I said.

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

"And he outlived his reputation?"

"Oh, no, or how would he have taken the designs for the Burgoyne

Cathedral? Why, the very day he died...."

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

finished, his prize awarded?"

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

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


"And he was tended by his own kith and kin, dying with his head on his

wife's breast, his hand in his only son's hand, without any thought of

their possible poverty to vex him. Are these things so?"

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

"Shocking?" I said. "Get out of this place. Go forth, run about and

see what death really means. You have described such dying as a god

might envy and a king might pay half his ransom to make certain of.

Wait till you have seen men--strong men of thirty-five, with little

children, die at two days' notice, penniless and alone, and seen it not

once, but twenty times; wait till you have seen the young girl die

within a fortnight of the wedding; or the lover within three days of

his marriage; or the mother--sixty little minutes--before her son can

come to her side; wait till you hesitate before handling your daily

newspaper for fear of reading of the death of some young man that you

have dined with, drank with, shot with, lent money to and borrowed

money from, and tested to the uttermost--till you dare not hope for the

death of an old man, but, when you are strongest, count up the tale of

your acquaintances and friends, wondering how many will be alive six

months hence. Wait till you have heard men calling in the death hour on

kin that cannot come; till you have dined with a man one night and seen

him buried on the next. Then you can begin to whimper about loneliness

and change and desolation." Here I foamed at the mouth.

"And do you mean to say," drawled a young gentleman, "that there is any

society in which that sort of holocaust goes on?"

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

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

If I tell them yarns, they say: "How true! How true!" If I try to

present the truth, they say: "What superb imagination!"

But you understand, don't you?


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


There are times when one wants to get into pyjamas and stretch and

loll, and explain things generally. This is one of those times. It

is impossible to stand at ease in London, and the inhabitants are so

abominably egotistical that one cannot shout "I, I, I" for two minutes

without another man joining in with "Me, too!" Which things are an


The amusement began with a gentleman of infinite erudition offering to

publish my autobiography. I was to write a string of legends--he would

publish them; and would I forward a cheque for five guineas "to cover

incidental expenses?" To him I explained that I wanted five guinea

cheques myself very much indeed, and that, emboldened by his letter,

which gave me a very fair insight into his character, I was even then

maturing _his_ autobiography, which I hoped to publish before long

with illustrations, and would he forward a cheque for five guineas "to

cover incidental expenses?" This brought me an eight-page compilation

of contumely. He was grieved to find that he had been mistaken in my

character, which he had believed was, at least, elevated. He begged me

to remember that the first letter had been written in the strictest

confidence, and that if I notated one tittle of the said "repository"

he would unkennel the bloodhounds of the law and hunt me down. An

autobiography on the lines that I had "so flippantly proposed" was

libel without benefit of authorship, and I had better lend him two

guineas--I.O.U. enclosed--to salve his lacerated feelings. I replied

that I had his autobiography by me in manuscript, and would post it

to his address, V.P.P., two guineas and one-half. He evidently knew

nothing about the V.P.P., and the correspondence stopped. It is really

very hard for an Anglo-Indian to get along in London. Besides, my

autobiography is not a thing I should care to make public before

extensive Bowdlerisation.

These things, however, only led up to much worse. I dare not grin over

them unless I step aside Eastward. I wrote stories, all about little

pieces of India, carefully arranged and expurgated for the English

public. Then various people began to write about them. One gentleman

pointed out that I had taken "the well-worn themes of passion, love,

despair and fate," and, thanks to the "singular fascination" of my

style had "wrought them into new and glowing fabricks instinct with the

eternal vitality of the East." For three days after this _chit_ I was

almost too proud to speak to the housemaid with the fan-teeth (there

is a story about her that I will tell another time). On the fourth day

another gentleman made clear that that beautiful style was "tortuous,

elaborated and inept," and it was only on account of the "newness of

the subjects handled so crabbedly" that I "arrested the attention of

the public for a day." Then I wept before the housemaid, and she

called me a "real gentleman" because I gave her a shilling.

Then I tried an all-round cannon--published one thing under one name

and another under another, and sat still to watch. A gentleman, who

also speaks with authority on Literature and Art, came to me and said:

"I don't deny that there is a great deal of clever and superficial

fooling in that last thing of yours in the--I've forgotten what it was

called--but do you yourself think that you have that curious, subtle

grip on and instinct of matters Oriental that that other man shows in

his study of native life?" And he mentioned the name of my Other Self.

I bowed my head, and my shoulders shook with repentance and grief.

"No," said I. "It's so true," said he. "Yes," said I. "So feeling,"

said he. "Indeed it is," said I. "Such honest work, too!" said he.

"Oh, awful!" said I. "Think it over," said he, "and try to follow his

path." "I will," said I. And when he left I danced sarabands with the

housemaid of the fan-teeth till she wanted to know whether I had bought


Then another man came along and sat on my sofa and hailed me as a

brother. "And I know that we are kindred souls," said he, "because I

feel sure that you have evolved all the dreamy mystery and curious

brutality of the British soldier from the pure realm of fancy." "I

did," I said. "If you went into a barrack-room you would see at

once." "Faugh!" said he. "What have we to do with barrack-rooms? The

pure air of fancy feeds us both; keep to that. If you are trammelled

by the bitter, _bornée_ truth, you are lost. You die the death of

Zola. Invention is the only test of creation." "Of course," said I.

"Zola's a bold, bad man. Not a patch on _you_." I hadn't caught his

name, but I fancied that would prevent him flinging himself about

on my sofa, which is a cheap one. "I don't say that altogether," he

said. "He has his strong points. But he is deficient in imaginative

constructiveness. _You_, I see from what you have said, will belong

to the Neo-Gynekalistic school." I knew "Gyne" meant something about

cow-killing, and was prepared to hedge when he said good-bye, and

wrote an article about my ways and works, which brought another man to

my door spouting foam.

"Great Landor's ghost!" he said. "What under the stars has possessed

you to join the Gynekalistic lot?" "I haven't," I said. "I believe in

municipal regulation of slaughter-houses, if there is a strong Deputy

Commissioner to control the Muhammadan butchers, especially in the

hot weather, but...." "This is madness," said he. "Your reputation is

at stake. You must make it clear to the world that you have nothing

whatever to do with the flatulent, unballasted fiction of...." "Do you

suppose the world cares a tuppeny dam?" said I.

Then he raged afresh, and left me, pointing out that the Gynewallahs

wrote about nothing but women--which seems rather an unlimited

subject--and that I would die the death of a French author whose name I

have forgotten. But it wasn't Zola this time.

I asked the housemaid what in the world the Gynekalisthenics were. "La,

sir," said she, "it's only their way of being rude. That fat gentleman

with the long hair tried to kiss me when I opened the door. I slapped

his fat chops for him."

Now the crisis is at its height. All the entire round world, composed,

as far as I can learn, of the Gynekalistic and the anti-Gynekalistic

man, and two or three loafers, are trying to find out to what school

I rightly belong. They seem to use what they are pleased to call my

reputation as a bolster through which to stab at the foe. One gentleman

is proving that I am a bit of a blackguard, probably reduced from the

ranks, rather an impostor, and a considerable amount of plagiarist. The

other man denies the reduction from the ranks, withholds judgment about

the plagiarism, but would like, in the interest of the public--who

are at present exclusively occupied with Barnum--to prove it true,

and is convinced that my style is "hermaphroditic." I have all the

money on the first man. He is on the eve of discovering that I stole a

dead Tommy's diary just before I was drummed out of the service for

desertion, and have lived on the proceeds ever since. "Do _yew_ know,"

as the Private Secretary said at Simla this year, "it's remarkably hard

for an Anglo-Indian to get along in England."

_Shakl hai lekin ukl nahin hai!_


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


It makes me blush pink all over to think about it, but, none the less,

I have brought the tale to you, confident that you will understand. An

invitation to tea arrived at my address. The English are very peculiar

people about their tea. They don't seem to understand that it is a

function at which any one who is passing down the Mall may present

himself. They issue formal cards--just as if tea-drinking were like

dancing. My invitation said that I was to tea from 4:30 till 6 P.M.,

and there was never a word of lawn-tennis on the whole of the card. I

knew the English were heavy eaters, but this amazed me. "What in the

wide world," thought I, "will they find to do for an hour and a half?

Perhaps they'll play games, as it's near Christmas time. They can't

sit out in the verandah, and _chabutras_ are impossible."

Wherefore I went to this house prepared for anything. There was a

fine show of damp wraps in the hall, and a cheerful babble of voices

from the other side of the drawing-room door. The hostess ran at me,

vehemently shouting: "Oh, I am so glad you have come. We were all

talking about you." As the room was entirely filled with strangers,

chiefly female, I reflected that they couldn't have said anything very

bad. Then I was introduced to everybody, and some of the people were

talking in couples, and didn't want to be interrupted in the least,

and some were behind settees, and some were in difficulty with their

tea-cups, and one and all had exactly the same name. That is the worst

of a lisping hostess.

Almost before I had dropped the last limp hand, a burly ruffian, with a

beard, rumbled in my ear: "I trust you were satisfied with my estimate

of your powers in last week's _Concertina_?"

Now I don't see the _Concertina_ because it's too expensive, but I

murmured: "Immense! immense! Most gratifying. Totally undeserved." And

the ruffian said: "In a measure, yes. Not wholly. I flatter myself


"Oh, not in the least," said I. "No sugar, thanks." This to the

hostess, who was waving Sally Lunns under my nose. A female, who could

not have been less than seven feet high, came on, half speed ahead,

through the fog of the tea-steam, and docked herself on the sofa just

like an Inman liner.

"Have you ever considered," said she, "the enormous moral

responsibility that rests in the hands of one who has the gift

of literary expression? In my own case--but you surely know my


A much huger woman arrived, cast anchor, and docked herself on the

other side of the sofa. She was the collaborator. Together they

confided to me that they were desperately in earnest about the

amelioration of something or other. Their collective grievance against

me was that I was not in earnest.

"We have studied your works--all," said the five-thousand-ton

four-master, "and we cannot believe that you are in earnest." "Oh, no,"

I said hastily, "I never was." Then I saw that that was the wrong thing

to say, for the eight-thousand-ton palace Cunarder signalled to the

sister ship, saying: "You see, my estimate was correct."

"Now, my complaint against him is that he is too savagely _farouche_,"

said a weedy young gentleman with tow hair, who ate Sally Lunns like a

workhouse orphan. "_Faroucherie_ in his age is a fatal mistake."

I reflected a moment on the possibility of getting that young gentleman

out into a large and dusty maidan and gently _chukkering_ him before

_chota hazri_. He looked too sleek to me as he then stood. But I said

nothing, because a tiny-tiny woman with beady-black eyes shrilled: "I

disagree with you entirely. He is too much bound by the tradition of

the commonplace. I have seen in his later work signs that he is afraid

of his public. You must _never_ be afraid of your public."

Then they began to discuss me as though I were dead and buried under

the hearth-rug, and they talked of "tones" and "notes" and "lights" and

"shades" and tendencies.

"And which of us do you think is correct in her estimate of your

character?" said the tiny-tiny woman when they had made me out (a) a

giddy Lothario; (b) a savage; (c) a pre-Rafaelite angel; (d) co-equal

and co-eternal with half a dozen gentlemen whose names I had never

heard; (e) flippant; (f) penetrated with pathos; (g) an open atheist;

(h) a young man of the Roman Catholic faith with a mission in life.

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

Then a man entered whom I knew, and I fled to him for comfort. "Have I

missed the fun?" he asked with a twinkle in his eye.

I explained, snorting, what had befallen.

"Ay," said he quietly, "you didn't go the right way to work. You should

have stood on the hearth-rug and fired off epigrams. That's what I did

after I had written _Down in the Doldrums_, and was fed with crumpets

in consequence."

A woman plumped down by my side and twisted her hands into knots, and

hung her eyes over her cheek-bones. I thought it was too many muffins,

till she said: "Tell me, oh, tell me, was such-and-such in such a one

of your books--was he _real_? Was he _quite_ real? Oh, how lovely! How

sweet! How precious!" She alluded to that drunken ruffian Mulvaney, who

would have driven her into fits had he ever set foot on her doorstep in

the flesh. I caught the half of a wink in my friend's eye as he removed

himself and left me alone to tell fibs about the evolution of Private

Mulvaney. I said anything that came uppermost, and my answers grew so

wild that the woman departed.

Then I heard the hostess whispering to a girl, a nice, round, healthy

English maiden. "Go and talk to him," she said. "Talk to him about his


I gritted my teeth, and waited till the maiden was close at hand and

about to begin. There was a lovely young man at the end of the room

sucking a stick, and I felt sure that the maiden would much have

preferred talking to him. She smiled prefatorily.

"It's hot here," I said; "let's go over to the window"; and I plumped

down on a three-seated settee, with my back to the young man, leaving

only one place for the maiden. I was right. I signalled up the man who

had written _Down in the Doldrums_, and talked to him as fast as I knew

how. When he had to go, and the young man with him, the maiden became

enthusiastic, not to say gushing. But I knew that those compliments

were for value received. Then she explained that she was going out to

India to stay with her married aunt, wherefore she became as a sister

unto me on the spot. Her mamma did not seem to know much about Indian

outfits, and I waxed eloquent on the subject.

"It's all nonsense," I said, "to fill your boxes with things that can

be made just as well in the country. What you want are walking-dresses

and dinner-dresses as good as ever you can get, and gloves tinned

up, and odds and ends of things generally. All the rest, unless

you're extravagant, the _dharzee_ can make in the verandah. Take

underclothing, for instance." I was conscious that my loud and cheerful

voice was ploughing through one of those ghostly silences that

sometimes fall upon a company. The English only wear their outsides in

company. They have nothing to do with underclothing. I could feel that

without being told. So the silence cut short the one matter in which I

could really have been of use.

On the pavement my friend who wrote _Down in the Doldrums_ was waiting

to walk home with me. "What in the world does it all mean?" I said.

"Nothing," said he. "You've been asked there as a small deputy lion to

roar in place of a much bigger man. You growled, though."

"I should have done much worse if I'd known," I grunted. "Ah," said he,

"you haven't arrived at the real fun of the show. Wait till they've

made you jump through hoops and your turn's over, and you can sit on

a sofa and watch the new men being brought up and put through their

paces. You've nothing like that in India. How do you manage your


And I thought of smooth-cut lawns in the gloaming, and tables spread

under mighty trees, and men and women, all intimately acquainted with

each other, strolling about in the lightest of raiment, and the old

dowagers criticising the badminton, and the young men in riding-boots

making rude remarks about the claret cup, and the host circulating

through the mob and saying: "Hah, Piggy," or Bobby or Flatnose, as the

nickname might be, "have another peg," and the hostess soothing the

bashful youngsters and talking _khitmatgars_ with the Judge's wife, and

the last new bride hanging on her husband's arm and saying: "Isn't it

almost time to go home, Dicky, dear?" and the little fat owls chuckling

in the _bougainvilleas_, and the horses stamping and squealing in

the carriage-drive, and everybody saying the most awful things about

everybody else, but prepared to do anything for anybody else just the

same; and I gulped a great gulp of sorrow and homesickness.

"You wouldn't understand," said I to my friend. "Let's go to a

pot-house, where cabbies call, and drink something."


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



"Curiouser and curiouser," as Alice in Wonderland said when she found

her neck beginning to grow. Each day under the smoke brings me new and

generally unpleasant discoveries. The latest are most on my mind. I

hasten to transfer them to yours.

At first, and several times afterwards, I very greatly desired to talk

to a thirteen-two subaltern--not because he or I would have anything

valuable to say to each other, but just because he was a subaltern. I

wanted to know all about that evergreen polo-pony that "can turn on

a sixpence," and the second-hand second charger that, by a series of

perfectly unprecedented misfortunes, just failed to win the Calcutta

Derby. Then, too, I wished to hear of many old friends across the

sea, and who had got his company, and why and where the new Generals

were going next cold weather, and how the Commander-in-Chief had been

enlivening the Simla season. So I looked east and west, and north and

south, but never a thirteen-two subaltern broke through the fog; except

once--and he had grown a fifteen-one cot down, and wore a tall hat

and frock coat, and was begging for coppers from the Horse-Guards. By

the way, if you stand long enough between the mounted sentries--the

men who look like reflectors stolen from Christmas trees--you will

presently meet every human being you ever knew in India. When I am

not happy--that is to say, once a day--I run off and play on the

pavement in front of the Horse-Guards, and watch the expressions on the

gentlemen's faces as they come out. But this is a digression.

After some days--I grew lonelier and lonelier every hour--I went away

to the other end of the town, and catching a friend, said: "Lend me a

man--a young man--to play with. I don't feel happy. I want rousing. I

have liver." And the friend said: "Ah, yes, of course. What you want

is congenial society, something that will stir you up--a fellow-mind.

Now let me introduce you to a thoroughly nice young man. He's by way of

being an ardent Neo-Alexandrine, and has written some charming papers

on the 'Ethics of the Wood Pavement.'" Concealing my almost visible

rapture, I murmured "Oh, bliss!" as they used to say at the Gaiety, and

extended the hand of friendship to a young gentleman attired after the

fashion of the Neo-Alexandrines, who appear to be a sub-caste of social

priests. His hand was a limp hand, his face was very smooth because

he had not yet had time to grow any hair, and he wore a cloak like a

policeman's cloak, but much more so. On his finger was a cameo-ring

about three inches wide, and round his neck, the weather being warm,

was a fawn, olive and dead-leaf comforter of soft silk--the sort of

thing any right-minded man would give to his mother or his sister

without being asked.

We looked at each other cautiously for some minutes. Then he said:

"What do you think of the result of the Brighton election?" "Beautiful,

beautiful," I said, watching his eye, which saddened. "One of the

worst--that is, entirely the most absurd _reductio ad absurdum_ of the

principle of the narrow and narrow-minded majority imposing a will

which is necessarily incult on a minority animated by...." I forget

exactly what he said they were animated by, but it was something very


"When I was at Oxford," he said, "Haward of Exeter"--he spoke as one

speaks of Smith of Asia--"always inculcated at the Union----By the way,

you do not know, I suppose, anything of the life at Oxford?" "No," I

said, anxious to propitiate, "but I remember some boys once who seduced

an ekka and a pony into a Major's tent at a camp of exercise, laced

up the door, and let the Major fight it out with the horse." I told

that little incident in my best style, and was three parts through it

before I discovered that he was looking pained and shocked.

"That--ah--was not the side of Oxford that I had in mind when I was

saying that Haward of Exeter----" And he explained all about Mr.

Haward, who appeared to be a young gentleman, rising twenty-three,

of wonderful mental attainments, and as pernicious a prig as I ever

dreamed about. Mr. Haward had schemes for the better management of

creation; my friend told me them all--social, political and economical.

Then, just as I was feeling faint and very much in need of a drink,

he launched without warning upon the boundless seas of literature.

He wished to know whether I had read the works of Messrs. Guy de

Maupassant, Paul Bourget and Pierre Loti. This in the tone of a teacher

of Euclid. I replied that all my French was confined to the Vie

Parisienne and translations of Zola's novels with illustrations. Here

we parted. London is very large, and I do not think we shall meet any


I thanked our Mutual Friend for his kindness, and asked for another

young man to play with. This gentleman was even younger than the

last, but quite as cocksure. He told me in the course of half a

cigar that only men of mediocre calibre went into the army, which

was a brutalising profession; that he suffered from nerves, and "an

uncontrollable desire to walk up and down the room and sob" (that was

too many cigarettes), and that he had never set foot out of England,

but knew all about the world from his own theories. Thought Dickens

coarse; Scott jingling and meretricious; and had not by any chance read

the novels of Messrs. Guy de Maupassant, Paul Bourget and Pierre Loti.

Him I left quickly, but sorry that he could not do a six weeks'

training with a Middlesex militia regiment, where he would really get

something to sob for. The novel business interested me. I perceived

that it was a fashion, like his tie and his collars, and I wanted

to work it to the fountain-head. To this end I procured the whole

Shibboleth from Guy de Maupassant even unto Pierre Loti by way of

Bourget. Unwholesome was a mild term for these interesting books, which

the young men assured me that they read for style. When a fat Major

makes that remark in an Indian Club, everybody hoots and laughs. But

you must not laugh overseas, especially at young gentlemen who have

been to Oxford and listened to Mr. Haward of Exeter.

Then I was introduced to another young man who said he belonged to

a movement called Toynbee Hall, where, I gathered, young gentlemen

took an indecent interest in the affairs of another caste, whom, with

rare tact, they called "the poor," and told them generally how to

order their lives. Such was the manner and general aggressiveness of

this third young gentleman, that if he had told me that coats were

generally worn and good for the protection of the body, I should have

paraded Bond Street in my shirt. What the poor thought of him I could

not tell, but there is no room for it in this letter. He said that

there was going to be an upheaval of the classes--the English are

very funny about their castes. They don't know how to handle them

one little bit, and never allow them to draw water or build huts in

peace--and the entire social fabric was about to be remodelled on

his recommendations, and the world would be generally altered past

recognition. No, he had never seen anything of the world, but close

acquaintance with authorities had enabled him to form dispassionate

judgments on the subjects, and had I, by any chance, read the novels of

Guy de Maupassant, Pierre Loti and Paul Bourget?

It was a mean thing to do, but I couldn't help it. I had read 'em. I

put him on, so to speak, far back in Paul Bourget, who is a genial sort

of writer. I pinned him to one book. He could not escape from Paul

Bourget. He was fed with it till he confessed--and he had been quite

ready to point out its beauties--that we could not take much interest

in the theories put forward in that particular book. Then I said: "Get

a dictionary and read him," which severed our budding friendship.

Thereafter I sought our Mutual Friend and walked up and down his room

sobbing, or words to that effect. "Good gracious!" said my friend. "Is

that what's troubling you? Now, I hold the ravaging rights over half

a dozen fields and a bit of a wood. You can pot rabbits there in the

evenings sometimes, and anyway you get exercise. Come along."

So I went. I have not yet killed anything, but it seems wasteful to

drive good powder and shot after poor little bunnies when there are so

many other things in the world that would be better for an ounce and

a half of number five at sixty yards--not enough to disable, but just

sufficient to sting, and be pricked out with a penknife.

I should like to wield that penknife.


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


Whether Macdougal or Macdoodle be his name, the principle remains the

same, as Mrs. Nickleby said. The gentleman appeared to hold authority

in London, and by virtue of his position preached or ordained that

music-halls were vulgar, if not improper. Subsequently, I gathered

that the gentleman was inciting his associates to shut up certain

music-halls on the ground of the vulgarity aforesaid, and I saw with

my own eyes that unhappy little managers were putting notices into the

corners of their programmes begging the audience to report each and

every impropriety. That was pitiful, but it excited my interest.

Now, to the upright and impartial mind--which is mine--all the

diversions of Heathendom--which is the British--are of equal

ethnological value. And it is true that some human beings can be

more vulgar in the act of discussing etchings, editions of luxury,

or their own emotions, than other human beings employed in swearing

at each other across the street. Therefore, following a chain of

thought which does not matter, I visited very many theatres whose

licenses had never been interfered with. There I discovered men and

women who lived and moved and behaved according to rules which in no

sort regulate human life, by tradition dead and done with, and after

the customs of the more immoral ancients and Barnum. At one place the

lodging-house servant was an angel, and her mother a Madonna; at a

second they sounded the loud timbrel o'er a whirl of bloody axes, mobs,

and brown-paper castles, and said it was not a pantomime, but Art;

at a third everybody grew fabulously rich and fabulously poor every

twenty minutes, which was confusing; at a fourth they discussed the

Nudities and Lewdities in false-palate voices supposed to belong to

the aristocracy and that tasted copper in the mouth; at a fifth they

merely climbed up walls and threw furniture at each other, which is

notoriously the custom of spinsters and small parsons. Next morning the

papers would write about the progress of the modern drama (that was the

silver paper pantomime), and "graphic presentment of the realities of

our highly complex civilisation." That was the angel housemaid. By the

way, when an Englishman has been doing anything more than unusually

Pagan, he generally consoles himself with "over-civilisation." It's the

"martyr-to-nerves-dear" note in his equipment.

I went to the music-halls--the less frequented ones--and they were

almost as dull as the plays, but they introduced me to several

elementary truths. Ladies and gentlemen in eccentric, but not

altogether unsightly, costumes told me (a) that if I got drunk I should

have a head next morning, and perhaps be fined by the magistrate; (b)

that if I flirted promiscuously I should probably get into trouble;

(c) that I had better tell my wife everything and be good to her, or

she would be sure to find out for herself and be very bad to me; (d)

that I should never lend money; or (e) fight with a stranger whose form

I did not know. My friends (if I may be permitted to so call them)

illustrated these facts with personal reminiscences and drove them home

with kicks and prancings. At intervals circular ladies in pale pink and

white would low to their audience to the effect that there was nothing

half so sweet in life as "Love's Young Dream," and the billycock hats

would look at the four-and-elevenpenny bonnets, and they saw that it

was good and clasped hands on the strength of it. Then other ladies

with shorter skirts would explain that when their husbands

 "Stagger home tight about two,

   An' can't light the candle,

   We taik the broom 'andle

 An' show 'em what women can do."

Naturally, the billycocks, seeing what might befall, thought things

over again, and you heard the bonnets murmuring softly under the clink

of the lager-glasses: "Not _me_, Bill. Not _me_!" Now these things are

basic and basaltic truths. Anybody can understand them. They are as old

as Time. Perhaps the expression was occasionally what might be called

coarse, but beer is beer, and best in a pewter, though you can, if you

please, drink it from Venetian glass and call it something else. The

halls give wisdom and not too lively entertainment for sixpence--ticket

good for four pen'orth of refreshments, chiefly inky porter--and the

people who listen are respectable folk living under very grey skies who

derive all the light side of their life, the food for their imagination

and the crystallised expression of their views on Fate and Nemesis,

from the affable ladies and gentlemen singers. They require a few

green and gold maidens in short skirts to kick before them. Herein

they are no better and no worse than folk who require fifty girls very

much undressed, and a setting of music, or pictures that won't let

themselves be seen on account of their age and varnish, or statues and

coins. All animals like salt, but some prefer rock-salt, red or black

in lumps. But this is a digression.

Out of my many visits to the hall--I chose one hall, you understand,

and frequented it till I could tell the mood it was in before I had

passed the ticket-poll--was born the Great Idea. I served it as a slave

for seven days. Thought was not sufficient; experience was necessary.

I patrolled Westminster, Blackfriars, Lambeth, the Old Kent Road, and

many, many more miles of pitiless pavement to make sure of my subject.

At even I drank my lager among the billycocks, and lost my heart to

a bonnet. Goethe and Shakespeare were my precedents. I sympathised

with them acutely, but I got my Message. A chance-caught refrain of a

song which I understand is protected--to its maker I convey my most

grateful acknowledgments--gave me what I sought. The rest was made up

of four elementary truths, some humour, and, though I say it who should

leave it to the press, pathos deep and genuine. I spent a penny on a

paper which introduced me to a Great and Only who "wanted new songs."

The people desired them really. He was their ambassador, and taught

me a great deal about the property-right in songs, concluding with

a practical illustration, for he said my verses were just the thing

and annexed them. It was long before he could hit on the step-dance

which exactly elucidated the spirit of the text, and longer before he

could jingle a pair of huge brass spurs as a dancing-girl jingles her

anklets. That was my notion, and a good one.

The Great and Only possessed a voice like a bull, and nightly roared

to the people at the heels of one who was winning triple encores

with a priceless ballad beginning deep down in the bass: "We was

shopmates--boozin' shopmates." I feared that song as Rachel feared

Ristori. A greater than I had written it. It was a grim tragedy,

lighted with lucid humour, wedded to music that maddened. But my "Great

and Only" had faith in me, and I--I clung to the Great Heart of the

People--my people--four hundred "when it's all full, sir." I had not

studied them for nothing. I must reserve the description of my triumph

for another "Turnover."

There was no portent in the sky on the night of my triumph. A

barrowful of onions, indeed, upset itself at the door, but that was

a coincidence. The hall was crammed with billycocks waiting for "We

was shopmates." The great heart beat healthily. I went to my beer the

equal of Shakespeare and Molière at the wings in a first night. What

would my public say? Could anything live after the abandon of "We

was shopmates"? What if the redcoats did not muster in their usual

strength. O my friends, never in your songs and dramas forget the

redcoat. He has sympathy and enormous boots.

I believed in the redcoat; in the great heart of the people: above all

in myself. The conductor, who advertised that he "doctored bad songs,"

had devised a pleasant little lilting air for my needs, but it struck

me as weak and thin after the thunderous surge of the "Shopmates."

I glanced at the gallery--the redcoats were there. The fiddle-bows

creaked, and, with a jingle of brazen spurs, a forage-cap over his

left eye, my Great and Only began to "chuck it off his chest." Thus:

 "At the back o' the Knightsbridge Barricks,

   When the fog was a-gatherin' dim,

 The Lifeguard talked to the Undercook,

   An' the girl she talked to 'im."

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

"_Ling-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling-ting-ling!_" said the spurs of the Great

and Only, and through the roar in my ears I fancied I could catch a

responsive hoof-beat in the gallery. The next four lines held the

house to attention. Then came the chorus and the borrowed refrain.

It took--it went home with a crisp click. My Great and Only saw his

chance. Superbly waving his hand to embrace the whole audience, he

invited them to join him in:

 "You may make a mistake when you're mashing a tart,

   But you'll learn to be wise when you're older,

 And don't try for things that are out of your reach,

   And that's what the girl told the soldier, soldier, soldier,

 And that's what the girl told the soldier."

I thought the gallery would never let go of the long-drawn howl on

"soldier." They clung to it as ringers to the kicking bell-rope. Then

I envied no one--not even Shakespeare. I had my house hooked--gaffed

under the gills, netted, speared, shot behind the shoulder--anything

you please. That was pure joy! With each verse the chorus grew louder,

and when my Great and Only had bellowed his way to the fall of the

Lifeguard and the happy lot of the Undercook, the gallery rocked again,

the reserved stalls shouted, and the pewters twinkled like the legs

of the demented ballet-girls. The conductor waved the now frenzied

orchestra to softer Lydian strains. My Great and Only warbled piano:

 "At the back o' Knightsbridge Barricks,

   When the fog's a-gatherin' dim,

 The Lifeguard waits for the Undercook,

   But she won't wait for 'im."

"_Ta-ra-rara-rara-ra-ra-rah!_" rang a horn clear and fresh as a

sword-cut. 'Twas the apotheosis of virtue.

 "She's married a man in the poultry line

   That lives at 'Ighgate 'Ill,

 An' the Lifeguard walks with the 'ousemaid now,

   An' (_awful pause_) she can't foot the bill!"

Who shall tell the springs that move masses? I had builded better

than I knew. Followed yells, shrieks and wildest applause. Then, as a

wave gathers to the curl-over, singer and sung to fill their chests

and heave the chorus through the quivering roof--alto, horns, basses

drowned, and lost in the flood--to the beach-like boom of beating feet:

 "Oh, think o' my song when you're gowin' it strong

   An' your boots is too little to 'old yer;

 An' don't try for things that is out of your reach,

   An' that's what the girl told the soldier, soldier, so-holdier!"

Ow! Hi! Yi! Wha-hup! Phew! Whew! Pwhit! Bang! Wang! Crr-rash! There was

ample time for variations as the horns uplifted themselves and ere the

held voices came down in the foam of sound--

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

Providence has sent me several joys, and I have helped myself to

others, but that night, as I looked across the sea of tossing

billycocks and rocking bonnets, my work, as I heard them give tongue,

not once, but four times--their eyes sparkling, their mouths twisted

with the taste of pleasure--I felt that I had secured Perfect Felicity.

I am become greater than Shakespeare. I may even write plays for

the Lyceum, but I never can recapture that first fine rapture that

followed the Upheaval of the Anglo-Saxon four hundred of him and her.

They do not call for authors on these occasions, but I desired no need

of public recognition. I was placidly happy. The chorus bubbled up

again and again throughout the evening, and a redcoat in the gallery

insisted on singing solos about "a swine in the poultry line," whereas

I had written "man," and the pewters began to fly, and afterwards the

long streets were vocal with various versions of what the girl had

really told the soldier, and I went to bed murmuring: "I have found my


But it needs a more mighty intellect to write the Songs of the People.

Some day a man will rise up from Bermondsey, Battersea or Bow, and he

will be coarse, but clearsighted, hard but infinitely and tenderly

humorous, speaking the people's tongue, steeped in their lives and

telling them in swinging, urging, dinging verse what it is that their

inarticulate lips would express. He will make them songs. Such songs!

And all the little poets who pretend to sing to the people will scuttle

away like rabbits, for the girl (which, as you have seen, of course,

is wisdom) will tell that soldier (which is Hercules bowed under his

labours) all that she knows of Life and Death and Love.

And the same, they say, is a Vulgarity!


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


That was its real name, and its nature was like unto it; but what else

could I do? You must judge for me.

They brought a card--the housemaid with the fan-teeth held it gingerly

between black finger and blacker thumb--and it carried the name Mr.

R.H. Hoffer in old Gothic letters. A hasty rush through the file of

bills showed me that I owed nothing to any Mr. Hoffer, and assuming my

sweetest smile, I bade Fan of the Teeth show him up. Enter stumblingly

an entirely canary-coloured young person about twenty years of age,

with a suspicious bulge in the bosom of his coat. He had grown no hair

on his face; his eyes were of a delicate water-green, and his hat

was a brown billycock, which he fingered nervously. As the room was

blue with tobacco-smoke (and Latakia at that) he coughed even more

nervously, and began seeking for me. I hid behind the writing-table and

took notes. What I most noted was the bulge in his bosom. When a man

begins to bulge as to that portion of his anatomy, hit him in the eye,

for reasons which will be apparent later on.

He saw me and advanced timidly. I invited him seductively to the only

other chair, and "What's the trouble?" said I.

"I wanted to see you," said he.

"I am me," said I.

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

"I am, on the contrary, completely this way," said I. "Sit still, take

your time and tell me all about it."

He wriggled tremulously for three minutes, and coughed again. I

surveyed him, and waited developments. The bulge under the bosom

crackled. Then I frowned. At the end of three minutes he began.

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

I inclined my head stiffly, as though all London habitually climbed the

storeys on the same errand and rather wearied me.

Then he delivered himself of a speech which he had evidently got by

heart. He flushed painfully in the delivery.

"I am flattered," I said at the conclusion. "It's beastly gratifying.

What do you want?"

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

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

The young man turned pink. "But I thought, after I had read your

works--all your works, on my word--I had hoped that you would

understand me, and I really have come for advice." The bulge crackled

more ominously than ever.

"I understand perfectly," said I. "You are oppressed with vague and

nameless longings, are you not?"

"I am, terribly," said he.

"You do not wish to be as other men are? You desire to emerge from the

common herd, to make your mark, and so forth?"

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

"Also," said I, "you love, excessively, in several places at once

cooks, housemaids, governesses, schoolgirls, and the aunts of other


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

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


"It was to teach me to write prose, only to teach me to write prose,"

he murmured. "You do it yourself, because I have bought your works--all

your works."

He spoke as if he had purchased dunghills _en bloc_.

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

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

hand into his bosom.

"I beg your pardon, I meant will you be good enough to read your

five-act tragedy."

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

impressed than ever.

He unearthed his tragedy, the title of which I have given, and began

to read. I felt as though I were walking in a dream; having been till

then ignorant of the fact that earth held young men who held five-act

tragedies in their insides. The young man gave me the whole of the

performance, from the preliminary scene, where nothing more than an

eruption of Vesuvius occurs to mar the serenity of the manager, till

the very end, where the Roman sentry of Pompeii is slowly banked up

with ashes in the presence of the audience, and dies murmuring through

his helmet-vizor: "S.P.Q.R.R.I.P.R.S.V.P.," or words to that effect.

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

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

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

"Where do you live?" I said.

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

"How?" said I.

"On eleven shillings a week," said he.

"I was pretty well educated, and if you don't stay too long they will

let you read the books in the Holywell Street stalls."

"And you wasted your money buying my books," said I with a lump the

size of a bolster in my throat.

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


Then I collapsed. I didn't weep, but I took the tragedy and put it in

the fire, and called myself every name that I knew.

This caused the young man to sob audibly, partly from emotion and

partly from lack of food.

I took off my hat to him before I showed him out, and we went to a

restaurant and I arranged things generally on a financial basis.

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

Three days later a man came to see me on business, an objectionable man

of uncompromising truth. Just before he departed he said: "D' you know

anything about the struggling author of a tragedy called 'The Betrayal

of Confidences'?"

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

poverty keep alight."

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

"On the mischief!" said I.

"He didn't happen to tell you that he considered you the finest,

subtlest, truest, and so forth of all the living so forths, did he?"

"He may have said something out of the fulness of an overladen heart.

You know how unbridled is the enthusiasm of----"

"Young gentlemen who buy your books with their last farthing. You

didn't soak it all in by any chance, give him a good meal and half a

sovereign as well, did you?"

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

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

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

And he wept."

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

But considering the matter impartially, it seems to me that the game is

not more than "fifteen all" in any light.

It makes me blush to think about it.


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



Things have happened--but that is neither here nor there. What I

urgently require is a servant--a nice, fat Mussulman _khitmatgar_,

who is not above doing bearer's work on occasion. Such a man I would

go down to Southampton or Tilbury to meet, would usher tenderly into

a first-class carriage (I always go third myself), and wrap in the

warmest of flannel. He should be "_Jenab_" and I would be "_O Tum_."

When he died, as he assuredly would in this weather, I would bury him

in my best back garden and write mortuary verses for publication in the

_Koh-i-Nur_, or whatever vernacular paper he might read. I want, in

short, a servant; and this is why I am writing to you.

The English, who, by the way, are unmitigated barbarians, maintain

cotton-print housemaids to do work which is the manifest portion of a

man. Besides which, no properly constructed person cares to see a white

woman waiting upon his needs, filling coal-scuttles (these are very

mysterious beasts) and tidying rooms. The young homebred Englishman

does not object, and one of the most tantalising sights in the world

is that of the young man of the house--the son newly introduced to

shaving-water and great on the subject of maintaining authority--it is

tantalising, I say, to see this young cub hectoring a miserable little

slavey for not having lighted a fire or put his slippers in their

proper place. The next time a big, bold man from the frontier comes

home I shall hire him to kick a few young gentlemen of my acquaintance

all round their own drawing-rooms while I lecture on my theory that

this sort of thing accounts for the perceptible lack of chivalry in

the modern Englishman. Now, if you or I or anybody else raved over and

lectured at Kadir Baksh, or Ram Singh, or Jagesa on the necessity of

obeying orders and the beauty of reverencing our noble selves, our men

would laugh; or if the lecture struck them as too long-winded would ask

us if our livers were out of order and recommend _dawai_. The housemaid

must stand with her eyes on the ground while the young whelp sticks

his hands under the tail of his dressing-gown and explains her duty to

her. This makes me ill and sick--sick for Kadir Baksh, who rose from

the earth when I called him, who knew the sequence of my papers and

the ordering of my paltry garments, and, I verily believed, loved me

not altogether for the sake of lucre. He said he would come with me to

_Belait_ because, "though the sahib says he will never return to India,

yet I know, and all the other _nauker log_ know, that return is his


Being a fool, I left Kadir Baksh behind, and now I am alone with

housemaids, who will under no circumstances sleep on the mat outside

the door. Even as I write, one of these persons is cleaning up my room.

Kadir Baksh would have done his work without noise. She tramps and

scuffles; and, what is much worse, snuffles horribly. Kadir Baksh would

have saluted me cheerfully and began some sort of a yarn of the "It

hath reached me, O Auspicious King!" order, and perhaps we should have

debated over the worthlessness of Dunni, the _sais_, or the chances of

a little cold-weather expedition, or the wisdom of retaining a fresh

_chaprassi_--some intimate friend of Kadir Baksh. But now I have no

horses and no _chaprassis_, and this smutty-faced girl glares at me

across the room as though she expected I was going to eat her.

She must have a soul of her own--a life of her own--and perhaps a few

amusements. I can't get at these things. She says: "Ho, yuss," and

"Ho, no," and if I hadn't heard her chattering to the lift-boy on the

stairs I should think that her education stopped at these two phrases.

Now, I knew all about Kadir Baksh, his hopes and his savings--his

experiences in the past, and the health of the little ones. He was a

man--a human man remarkably like myself, and he knew that as well as

I. A housemaid is of course not a man, but she might at least be a

woman. My wanderings about this amazing heathen city have brought me

into contact with very many English _mem sahibs_ who seem to be eaten

up with the fear of letting their servants get "above their position,"

or "presume," or do something which would shake the foundations of the

four-mile cab radius. They seem to carry on a sort of cat-and-mouse war

when the husband is at office and they have nothing much to do. Later,

at places where their friends assemble, they recount the campaign, and

the other women purr approvingly and say: "You did quite right, my

dear. It is evident that she forgets her place."

All this is edifying to the stranger, and gives him a great idea of

the dignity that has to be bolstered and buttressed, eight hours of

the twenty-four, against the incendiary attacks of an eighteen-pound

including-beer-money sleeps-in-a-garret-at-the-top-of-the-house

servant-girl. There is a fine-crusted, slave-holding instinct in the

hearts of a good many deep-bosomed matrons--a "throw back" to the

times when we trafficked in black ivory. At tea-tables and places

where they eat muffins it is called dignity. Now, your Kadir Baksh or

my Kadir Baksh, who is a downtrodden and oppressed heathen (the young

gentlemen who bullyrag white women assure me that we are in the habit

of kicking our dependents and beating them with umbrellas daily),

would ask for his _chits_, and probably say something sarcastic ere he

drifted out of the compound gate, if you nagged or worried his noble

self. He does not know much about the meaner forms of dignity, but

he is entirely sound on the subject of _izzat_; and the fact of his

cracking an azure and Oriental jest with you in the privacy of your

dressing-room, or seeing you at your incoherent worst when you have an

attack of fever, does not in the least affect his general deportment in

public, where he knows that the honour of his sahib is his own honour,

and dons a new _kummerbund_ on the strength of it.

I have tried to deal with those housemaids in every possible way.

To sling a blunt "Annie" or "Mary" or "Jane" at a girl whose only

fault is that she is a heavy-handed incompetent, strikes me as rather

an insult, seeing that the girl may have a brother, and that if you

had a sister who was a servant you would object to her being howled

at upstairs and downstairs by her given name. But only ladies' maids

are entitled to their surnames. They are not nice people as a caste,

and they regard the housemaids as the _chamar_ regards the _mehter_.

Consequently, I have to call these girls by their Christian names, and

cock my feet up on a chair when they are cleaning the grate, and pass

them in the halls in the morning as though they didn't exist. Now, the

morning salutation of your Kadir Baksh or my Kadir is a performance

which Turveydrop might envy. These persons don't understand a nod; they

think it as bad as a wink, I believe. Respect and courtesy are lost

upon them, and I suppose I must gather my dressing-gown into a tail and

swear at them in the bloodless voice affected by the British female

who--have I mentioned this?--is a highly composite heathen when she

comes in contact with her sister clay downstairs.

The softer methods lay one open to harder suspicions. Not long

ago there was trouble among my shirts. I fancied buttons grew on

neck-bands. Kadir Baksh and the _durzie_ encouraged me in the belief.

When the lead-coloured linen (they cannot wash, by the way, in this

stronghold of infidels) shed its buttons I cast about for a means

of renewal. There was a housemaid, and she was not very ugly, and

I thought she could sew. I knew I could not. Therefore I strove to

ingratiate myself with her, believing that a little interest, combined

with a little capital, would fix those buttons more firmly than

anything else. Subsequently, and after an interval--the buttons were

dropping like autumn leaves--I kissed her. The buttons were attached at

once. So, unluckily, was the housemaid, for I gathered that she looked

forward to a lifetime of shirt-sewing in an official capacity, and my

Revenue Board contemplated no additional establishment. My shirts are

buttonsome, but my character is blasted. Oh, I wish I had Kadir Baksh!

This is only the first instalment of my troubles. The heathen in these

parts do not understand me; so if you will allow I will come to you for

sympathy from time to time. I am a child of calamity.


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


Writing of Kadir Baksh so wrought up my feelings that I could not rest

till I had at least made an attempt to get a _budli_ of some sort.

The black man is essential to my comfort. I fancied I might in this

city of barbarism catch a brokendown native strayed from his home and

friends, who would be my friend and humble pardner--the sort of man, y'

know, who would sleep on a rug somewhere near my chambers (I have forty

things to tell you about chambers, but they come later), and generally

look after my things. In the intervals of labour I would talk to him in

his own tongue, and we would go abroad together and explore London.

Do you know the Albert Docks? The British-India steamers go thence

to the sunshine. They sometimes leave a lascar or two on the wharf,

and, in fact, the general tone of the population thereabouts is brown

and umber. I was in no case to be particular. Anything dusky would do

for me, so long as it could talk Hindustani and sew buttons. I went

to the docks and walked about generally among the railway lines and

packing-cases, till I found a man selling tooth-combs, which is not a

paying trade. He was ragged even to furriness, and very unwashed. But

he came from the East. "What are you?" I said, and the look of the

missionary that steals over me in moments of agitation deluded that

tooth-comb man into answering, "Sar, I am native ki-li-sti-an," but he

put five more syllables into the last word.

There is no Christianity in the docks worth a tooth-comb. "I don't want

your beliefs. I want your _jat_," said I.

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

It was an awful thing to lower oneself to the level of a Colonel of

the Madras Army, and come down to being tended by a Ramasawmy; but

beggars cannot be choosers. I pointed out to him that the tooth-comb

trade was a thing lightly to be dropped and taken up. He might injure

his health by a washing, but he could not much hurt his prospects by

coming along with me and trying his hand at bearer's work. "Could he

work?" Oh, yes, he didn't mind work. He had been a servant in his time.

Several servants, in fact.

"Could he wash himself?"

"Ye-es," he might do that if I gave him a coat--a thick

coat--afterwards, and especially took care of the tooth-combs, for they

were his little all.

"Had he any character of any kind?"

He thought for a minute and then said cheerfully: "Not a little dam."

Thereat I loved him, because a man who can speak the truth in minor

matters may be trusted with important things, such as shirts.

We went home together till we struck a public bath, mercifully divided

into three classes. I got him to go into the third without much

difficulty. When he came out he was in the way of cleanliness, and

before he had time to expostulate I ran him into the second. Into the

first he would not go till I had bought him a cheap ulster. He came

out almost clean. That cost me three shillings altogether. The ulster

was half a sovereign, and some other clothes were thirty shillings.

Even these things could not hide from me that he looked an unusually

villainous creature.

At the chambers the trouble began. The people in charge had race

prejudices very strongly, and I had to point out that he was a

civilised native Christian anxious to improve his English--it was

fluent but unchastened--before they would give him some sort of a crib

to lie down in. The housemaids called him the Camel. I introduced him

as "the Tamil," but they knew nothing of the ethnological sub-divisions

of India. They called him "that there beastly camel," and I saw by the

light in his eye he understood only too well.

Coming up the staircase he confided to me his views about the

housemaids. He had lived at the docks too long. I said they weren't. He

said they were.

Then I showed him his duties, and he stood long in thought before

the wardrobe. He evidently knew more than a little of the work, but

whenever he came to a more than unusually dilapidated garment, he said:

"No good for you, _I_ take"; and he took. Then he put all the buttons

on in the smoking of a pipe, and asked if there was anything else. I

weakly said "No." He said: "Good-bye," and faded out of the house. The

housekeeper of the chambers said he would never return.

But he did. At three in the morning home he came, and, naturally,

possessing no latch-key, rang the bell. A policeman interfered, taking

him for a burglar, and I was roused by the racket. I explained he was

my servant, and the policeman said: "He do swear wonderful. 'Tain't

any language. I know most of it, but some I've heard at Poplar." Then

I dragged the Camel upstairs. He was quite sober, and said he had

been waiting at the docks. He must wait at the docks every time a

British-India steamer came in. A lascar on the _Rewah_ had stabbed him

in the side three voyages ago, and he was waiting for his man. "Maybe

he have died," he said; "but if he have not died I catch him and cut

his liver out." Then he curled himself up on the mat, and slept as

noiselessly as a child.

Next morning he inspected the humble breakfast bloater, which did not

meet with his approval, for he instantly cut it in two pieces, fried

it with butter, dusted it with pepper, and miraculously made of it a

dish fit for a king. When the shock-headed boy came to take away the

breakfast things, he counted every piece of crockery into his quaking

hand and said: "If you break one dam thing I cut your dam liver out and

fly _him_ with butter." Consequently, the housemaids said they were not

going to clean the rooms as long as the Camel abode within. The Camel

put his head out of the door and said they need not. He cleaned the

rooms with his own hand and without noise, filled my pipe, made the

bed, filled a pipe for himself, and sat down on the hearth-rug while

I worked. When thought carried him away to the lascar of the _Rewah_,

he would brandish the poker or take out his knife and whet it on the

brickwork of the grate. It was a soothing sound to work to. At one

o'clock he said that the _Chyebassa_ would be in, and he must go. He

demanded no money, saw that my tiffin was served, and fled. He returned

at six o'clock singing a hymn. A lascar on the _Chyebassa_ had told

him that the _Rewah_ was due in four days, and that his friend was not

dead, but ripe for the knife. That night he got very drunk while I was

out, and frightened the housemaids. All the chambers were in an uproar,

but he crawled out of the skylight on the roof, and sat there till I

came home.

In the dawn he was very penitent. He had misarranged his drink: the

original intention being to sleep it off on my hearth-rug, but a

housemaid had invited a friend up to the chambers to look at him, and

the whispered comments and giggles made him angry. All next day he was

restless but attentive. He urged me to fly to foreign shores, and take

him with me. When other inducements failed, he reiterated that he was a

"native ki-lis-ti-an," and whetted his knife more furiously than ever.

"You do not like this place. _I_ do not like this place. Let us travel

_dam_ quick. Let us go on the sea. _I_ cook blotters." I told him this

was impossible, but that if he stayed in my service we might later go

abroad and enjoy ourselves.

But he would not rest and sleep on the rug and tend my shirts. On the

morning of the _Rewah's_ arrival he went away, and from his absence I

fancied he had fallen into the hands of the law. But at midnight he

came back, weak and husky.

"Have got him," said he simply, and dragged his ulster down from the

wall, wrapping it very tightly round him. "Now I go 'way."

He went into the bedroom, and began counting over the tale of the

week's wash, the boots, and so forth. "All right," he called into the

other room. Then came in to say good-bye, walking slowly.

"What's your name, marshter?" said he. I told him. He bowed and

descended the staircase painfully. I had not paid him a penny, and

since he did not ask for it, counted on his returning at least for


It was not till next morning that I found big dark drops on most of my

clean shirts, and the housemaid complained of a trail of blood all down

the staircase.

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


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


  _Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better than that a man

  should rejoice in his own works; for that is his portion._

 --_Ecc._ iii, 22.

"Kench with a long hand, lazy one," I said to the punkah coolie. "But

I am tired," said the coolie. "Then go to Jehannum and get another man

to pull," I replied, which was rude and, when you come to think of it,


"Happy thought--go to Jehannum!" said a voice at my elbow. I turned

and saw, seated on the edge of my bed, a large and luminous Devil.

"I'm not afraid," I said. "You're an illusion bred by too much tobacco

and not enough sleep. If I look at you steadily for a minute you will

disappear. You are an _ignis fatuus_."

"Fatuous yourself!" answered the Devil blandly. "Do you mean to say

you don't know _me_?" He shrivelled up to the size of a blob of

sediment on the end of a pen, and I recognised my old friend the Devil

of Discontent, who lived in the bottom of the inkpot, but emerges

half a day after each story has been printed with a host of useless

suggestions for its betterment.

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

to your inkpot."

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

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

"No. It's a perfectly practicable one. Your swearing at the coolie

suggested it. Did you ever hear of a man called Dante--charmin' fellow,

friend o' mine?"

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

"Yes. I inspired that notion--but never mind. Are you willing to play

Dante to my Virgil? I can't guarantee a nine-circle Inferno, any more

than _you_ can turn out a cantoed epic, but there's absolutely no risk

and--it will run to three columns at least."

"But what sort of Hell do you own?" I said. "I fancied your operations

were mostly above ground. You have no jurisdiction over the dead."

"Sainted Leopardi!" rapped the Devil, resuming natural size. "Is

_that_ all you know? I'm proprietor of one of the largest Hells in

existence--the Limbo of Lost Endeavor, where the souls of all the

Characters go."

"Characters? What Characters?"

"All the characters that are drawn in books, painted in novels,

sketched in magazine articles, thumb-nailed in _feuilletons_ or in

any way created by anybody and everybody who has had the fortune or

misfortune to put his or her writings into print."

"That sounds like a quotation from a prospectus. What do you herd

Characters for? Aren't there enough souls in the Universe?"

"Who possess souls and who do not? For aught you can prove, man may be

soulless and the creatures he writes about immortal. Anyhow, about a

hundred years after printing became an established nuisance, the loose

Characters used to blow about interplanetary space in legions which

interfered with traffic. So they were collected, and their charge

became mine by right. Would you care to see them? _Your own are there._"

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

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

going to dive!"

He plunged from the bed headfirst into the floor. There was a smell of

jail-_durrie_ and damp earth; and then fell the black darkness of night.

       *       *       *       *       *

We stood before a door in a topless wall, from the further side of

which came faintly the roar of infernal fires.

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

"No more there is," said the Devil. "That's only the Furnace of First

Edition. Will you go on? No other human being has set foot here in the

flesh. Let me bring the door to your notice. Pretty design, isn't it? A

joke of the Master's."

I shuddered, for the door was nothing more than a coffin, the backboard

knocked out, set on end in the thickness of the wall. As I hesitated,

the silence of space was cut by a sharp, shrill whistle, like that of

a live shell, which rapidly grew louder and louder. "Get away from the

door," said the Devil of Discontent quickly. "Here's a soul coming to

its place." I took refuge under the broad vans of the Devil's wings.

The whistle rose to an ear-splitting shriek and a naked soul flashed

past me.

"Always the same," said the Devil quietly. "These little writers

are _so_ anxious to reach their reward. H'm, I don't think he likes

_his'n_, though." A yell of despair reached my ears and I shuddered

afresh. "Who was he?" I asked. "Hack-writer for a pornographic firm in

Belgium, exporting to London, you'll understand presently--and now

we'll go in," said the Devil. "I must apologise for that creature's

rudeness. He should have stopped at the distance-signal for line-clear.

You can hear the souls whistling there now."

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

"Yes--writer-men. That's why they are so shrill and querulous. Welcome

to the Limbo of Lost Endeavour!"

They passed into a domed hall, more vast than visions could embrace,

crowded to its limit by men, women and children. Round the eye of the

dome ran, a flickering fire, that terrible quotation from Job: "Oh,

that mine enemy had written a book!"

"Neat, isn't it?" said the Devil, following my glance. "Another joke

of the Master's. Man of _Us_, y' know. In the old days we used to put

the Characters into a disused circle of Dante's Inferno, but they grew

overcrowded. So Balzac and Théophile Gautier were commissioned to write

up this building. It took them three years to complete, and is one of

the finest under earth. Don't attempt to describe it unless you are

_quite_ sure you are equal to Balzac and Gautier in collaboration. Look

at the crowds and tell me what you think of them."

I looked long and earnestly, and saw that many of the multitude were

cripples. They walked on their heels or their toes, or with a list to

the right or left. A few of them possessed odd eyes and parti-coloured

hair; more threw themselves into absurd and impossible attitudes; and

every fourth woman seemed to be weeping.

"Who are these?" I said.

"Mainly the population of three-volume novels that never reach the

six-shilling stage. See that beautiful girl with one grey eye and one

brown, and the black and yellow hair? Let her be an awful warning to

you how you correct your proofs. She was created by a careless writer a

month ago, and he changed all colours in the second volume. So she came

here as you see her. There will be trouble when she meets her author.

He can't alter her now, and she says she'll accept no apology."

"But when will she meet her author?"

"Not in _my_ department. Do you notice a general air of expectancy

among all the Characters? They are waiting for their authors. Look!

That explains the system better than I can."

A lovely maiden, at whose feet I would willingly have fallen and

worshipped, detached herself from the crowd and hastened to the door

through which I had just come. There was a prolonged whistle without,

a soul dashed through the coffin and fell upon her neck. The girl with

the parti-coloured hair eyed the couple enviously as they departed arm

in arm to the other side of the hall.

"That man," said the Devil, "wrote one magazine story, of twenty-four

pages, ten years ago when he was desperately in love with a flesh and

blood woman. He put all his heart into the work, and created the girl

you have just seen. The flesh and blood woman married some one else and

died--it's a way they have--but the man has this girl for his very

own, and she will everlastingly grow sweeter."

"Then the Characters are independent?"

"Slightly! Have you never known one of your Characters--even yours--get

beyond control as soon as they are made?"

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

"To the Levels. You've heard of authors finding their levels? We keep

all the Levels here. As each writer enters, he picks up his Characters,

or they pick _him_ up, as the case may be, and to the Levels he goes."

"I should like to see----"

"So you shall, when you come through that door a second

time--whistling. I can't take you there now."

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

"We should be crowded out if we didn't draft them off somehow. Step

this way and I'll take you to the Master. One moment, though. There's

John Ridd with Lorna Doone, and there are Mr. Maliphant and the

Bormalacks--clannish folk, those Besant Characters--don't let the twins

talk to you about Literature and Art. Come along. What's here?"

The white face of Mr. John Oakhurst, gambler, broke through the press.

"I wish to explain," said he in a level voice, "that had I been

consulted I should never have blown out my brains with the Duchess and

all that Poker Flat lot. I wish to add that the only woman I ever loved

was the wife of Brown of Calaveras." He pressed his hand behind him

suggestively. "All right, Mr. Oakhurst," I said hastily; "I believe

you." "_Kin_ you set it right?" he asked, dropping into the Doric of

the Gulches. I caught a trigger's cloth-muffled click. "Just heavens!"

I groaned. "Must I be shot for the sake of another man's Characters?"

Oakhurst levelled his revolver at my head, but the weapon was struck

up by the hand of Yuba Bill. "You durned fool!" said the stage-driver.

"Hevn't I told you no one but a blamed idiot shoots at sight _now_?

Let the galoot go. You kin see by his eyes he's no party to your

matrimonial arrangements." Oakhurst retired with an irreproachable bow,

but in my haste to escape I fell over Caliban, his head in a melon and

his tame orc under his arm. He spat like a wildcat.

"Manners none, customs beastly," said the Devil. "We'll take the Bishop

with us. They all respect the Bishop." And the great Bishop Blougram

joined us, calm and smiling, with the news, for my private ear, that

Mr. Gigadibs despised him no longer.

We were arrested by a knot of semi-nude Bacchantes kissing a clergyman.

The Bishop's eyes twinkled, and I turned to the Devil for explanation.

"That's Robert Elsmere--what's left of him," said the Devil. "Those are

French _feuilleton_ women and scourings of the Opera Comique. He has

been lecturing 'em, and they don't like it." "He lectured _me_!" said

the Bishop with a bland smile. "He has been a nuisance ever since he

came here. By the Holy Law of Proportion, he had the audacity to talk

to the Master! Called him a 'pot-bellied barbarian'! That is why he

is walking so stiffly now," said the Devil. "Listen! Marie Pigeonnier

is swearing deathless love to him. On my word, we ought to segregate

the French characters entirely. By the way, your regiment came in very

handy for Zola's importations."

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

"You wrote something about the Tyneside Tail-Twisters, just enough to

give the outline of the regiment, and of course it came down here--one

thousand and eighty strong. I told it off in hollow squares to pen

up the Rougon-Macquart series. There they are." I looked and saw the

Tyneside Tail-Twisters ringing an inferno of struggling, shouting,

blaspheming men and women in the costumes of the Second Empire. Now and

again the shadowy ranks brought down their butts on the toes of the

crowd inside the square, and shrieks of pain followed. "You should have

indicated your men more clearly; they are hardly up to their work,"

said the Devil. "If the Zola tribe increase, I'm afraid I shall have

to use up your two companies of the Black Tyrone and two of the Old


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

"Go slow," said the Devil. "You won't be half so proud in a little

while, and I don't think much of your regiments, anyway. But they are

good enough to fight the French. Can you hear Coupeau raving in the

left angle of the square? He used to run about the hall seeing pink

snakes, till the children's story-book Characters protested. Come


Never since Caxton pulled his first proof and made for the world a

new and most terrible God of Labour had mortal man such an experience

as mine when I followed the Devil of Discontent through the shifting

crowds below the motto of the Dome. A few--a very few--of the faces

were of old friends, but there were thousands whom I did not recognise.

Men in every conceivable attire and of every possible nationality,

deformed by intention, or the impotence of creation that could not

create--blind, unclean, heroic, mad, sinking under the weight of

remorse, or with eyes made splendid by the light of love and fixed

endeavour; women fashioned in ignorance and mourning the errors of

their creator, life and thought at variance with body and soul; perfect

women such as walk rarely upon this earth, and horrors that were women

only because they had not sufficient self-control to be fiends; little

children, fair as the morning, who put their hands into mine and made

most innocent confidences; loathsome, lank-haired infant-saints,

curious as to the welfare of my soul, and delightfully mischievous

boys, generalled by the irrepressible Tom Sawyer, who played among

murderers, harlots, professional beauties, nuns, Italian bandits and

politicians of state.

The ordered peace of Arthur's Court was broken up by the incursions

of Mr. John Wellington Wells, and Dagonet, the jester, found that his

antics drew no attention so long as the "dealer in magic and spells,"

taking Tristram's harp, sang patter-songs to the Round Table; while a

Zulu Impi, headed by Allan Quatermain, wheeled and shouted in sham

fight for the pleasure of Little Lord Fauntleroy. Every century and

every type was jumbled in the confusion of one colossal fancy-ball

where all the characters were living their parts.

"Aye, look long," said the Devil. "You will never be able to describe

it, and the next time you come you won't have the chance. Look long,

and look at"--Good's passing with a maiden of the Zu-Vendi must have

suggested the idea--"look at their legs." I looked, and for the second

time noticed the lameness that seemed to be almost universal in the

Limbo of Lost Endeavour. Brave men and stalwart to all appearance had

one leg shorter than the other; some paced a few inches above the

floor, never touching it, and others found the greatest difficulty in

preserving their feet at all. The stiffness and laboured gait of these

thousands was pitiful to witness. I was sorry for them. I told the

Devil as much.

"H'm," said he reflectively, "that's the world's work. Rather cockeye,

ain't it? They do everything but stand on their feet. _You_ could

improve them, I suppose?" There was an unpleasant sneer in his tone,

and I hastened to change the subject.

"I'm tired of walking," I said. "I want to see some of my own

Characters, and go on to the Master, whoever he may be, afterwards."

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


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

"Very well. Don't abuse me if you don't like the view. There are

one-and-fifty of your make up to date, and--it's rather an appalling

thing to be confronted with fifty-one children. However, here's a

special favourite of yours. Go and shake hands with her!"

A limp-jointed, staring-eyed doll was hirpling towards me with a

strained smile of recognition. I felt that I knew her only too well--if

indeed she were she. "Keep her off, Devil!" I cried, stepping back. "I

never made _that_!" "'She began to weep and she began to cry, Lord ha'

mercy on me, this is none of I!' You're very rude to--Mrs. Hauksbee,

and she wants to speak to you," said the Devil. My face must have

betrayed my dismay, for the Devil went on soothingly: "That's as she

_is_, remember. I _knew_ you wouldn't like it. Now what will you give

if I make her as she ought to be? No, I don't want your soul, thanks.

I have it already, and many others of better quality. Will you, when

you write your story, own that I am the best and greatest of all

the Devils?" The doll was creeping nearer. "Yes," I said hurriedly.

"Anything you like. Only I can't stand her in that state."

"You'll _have_ to when you come next again. Look! No connection with

Jekyll and Hyde!" The Devil pointed a lean and inky finger towards the

doll, and lo! radiant, bewitching, with a smile of dainty malice, her

high heels clicking on the floor like castanets, advanced Mrs. Hauksbee

as I had imagined her in the beginning.

"Ah!" she said. "You are here so soon? Not dead yet? That will come.

Meantime, a thousand congratulations. And now, what do you think of

me?" She put her hands on her hips, revealed a glimpse of the smallest

foot in Simla and hummed: "'Just look at that--just look at this! And

then you'll see I'm not amiss.'"

"She'll use exactly the same words when you meet her next time," said

the Devil warningly. "You dowered her with any amount of vanity, if

you left out----Excuse me a minute! I'll fetch up the rest of your

menagerie." But I was looking at Mrs. Hauksbee.

"Well?" she said. "_Am_ I what you expected?" I forgot the Devil and

all his works, forgot that this was not the woman I had made, and

could only murmur rapturously: "By Jove! You _are_ a beauty." Then,

incautiously: "And you stand on your feet." "Good heavens!" said

Mrs. Hauksbee. "Would you, at my time of life, have me stand on my

head?" She folded her arms and looked me up and down. I was grinning

imbecilely--the woman was so alive. "Talk," I said absently; "I want to

hear you talk." "I am not used to being spoken to like a coolie," she

replied. "Never mind," I said, "that may be for outsiders, but I made

you and I've a right----"

"You have a right? You made me? My dear sir, if I didn't know that we

should bore each other so inextinguishably hereafter I should read

you an hour's lecture this instant. You made me! I suppose you will

have the audacity to pretend that you understand me--that you _ever_

understood me. Oh, man, man--foolish man! If you only knew!"

"Is that the person who thinks he understands us, Loo?" drawled a voice

at her elbow. The Devil had returned with a cloud of witnesses, and it

was Mrs. Mallowe who was speaking.

"I've touched 'em all up," said the Devil in an aside. "You couldn't

stand 'em raw. But don't run away with the notion that they are your

work. I show you what they ought to be. You must find out for yourself

how to make 'em so."

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

"_Litera scripta manet._ That's in the Delectus and Eternity." He

turned round to the semi-circle of Characters: "Ladies and gentlemen,

who are all a great deal better than you should be by virtue of _my_

power, let me introduce you to your maker. If you have anything to say

to him, you can say it."

"What insolence!" said Mrs. Hauksbee between her teeth. "This isn't

a Peterhoff drawing-room. I haven't the slightest intention of being

leveed by this person. Polly, come here and we'll watch the animals

go by." She and Mrs. Mallowe stood at my side. I turned crimson with

shame, for it is an awful thing to see one's Characters in the solid.

"Wal," said Gilead P. Beck as he passed, "I would not be you at this

_pre_-cise moment of time, not for all the ile in the univarsal airth.

_No_, sirr! I thought my dinner-party was soul-shatterin', but it's

mush--mush and milk--to your circus. Let the good work go on!"

I turned to the company and saw that they were men and women, standing

upon their feet as folks should stand. Again I forgot the Devil, who

stood apart and sneered. From the distant door of entry I could hear

the whistle of arriving souls, from the semi-darkness at the end of

the hall came the thunderous roar of the Furnace of First Edition,

and everywhere the restless crowds of Characters muttered and rustled

like windblown autumn leaves. But I looked upon my own people and was

perfectly content as man could be.

"I have seen you study a new dress with just such an expression of

idiotic beatitude," whispered Mrs. Mallowe to Mrs. Hauksbee. "Hush!"

said the latter. "He thinks he understands." Then to me: "Please trot

them out. Eternity is long enough in all conscience, but that is no

reason for wasting it. _Pro_-ceed, or shall I call them up? Mrs.

Vansuythen, Mr. Boult, Mrs. Boult, Captain Kurrel and the Major!" The

European population in Kashima in the Dosehri hills, the actors in the

Wayside Comedy, moved towards me; and I saw with delight that they were

human. "So you wrote about us?" said Mrs. Boult. "About my confession

to my husband and my hatred of that Vansuythen woman? Did you think

that you understood? Are _all_ men such fools?" "That woman is bad

form," said Mrs. Hauksbee, "but she speaks the truth. I wonder what

these soldiers have to say." Gunner Barnabas and Private Shacklock

stopped, saluted, and hoped I would take no offence if they gave it as

their opinion that I had not "got them down quite right." I gasped.

A spurred Hussar succeeded, his wife on his arm. It was Captain

Gadsby and Minnie, and close behind them swaggered Jack Mafflin, the

Brigadier-General in his arms. "Had the cheek to try to describe our

life, had you?" said Gadsby carelessly. "Ha-hmm! S'pose he understood,

Minnie?" Mrs. Gadsby raised her face to her husband and murmured:

"I'm _sure_ he didn't, Pip," while Poor Dear Mamma, still in her

riding-habit, hissed: "I'm sure he didn't understand _me_." And these

also went their way.

One after another they filed by--Trewinnard, the pet of his Department;

Otis Yeere, lean and lanthorn-jawed; Crook O'Neil and Bobby Wick arm in

arm; Janki Meah, the blind miner in the Jimahari coal fields; Afzul

Khan, the policeman; the murderous Pathan horse-dealer, Durga Dass; the

bunnia, Boh Da Thone; the dacoit, Dana Da, weaver of false magic; the

Leander of the Barhwi ford; Peg Barney, drunk as a coot; Mrs. Delville,

the dowd; Dinah Shadd, large, red-cheeked and resolute; Simmons, Slane

and Losson; Georgie Porgie and his Burmese helpmate; a shadow in a high

collar, who was all that I had ever indicated of the Hawley Boy--the

nameless men and women who had trod the Hill of Illusion and lived in

the Tents of Kedar, and last, His Majesty the King.

Each one in passing told me the same tale, and the burden thereof was:

"You did not understand." My heart turned sick within me. "Where's Wee

Willie Winkie?" I shouted. "Little children don't lie."

A clatter of pony's feet followed, and the child appeared, habited as

on the day he rode into Afghan territory to warn Coppy's love against

the "bad men." "I've been playing," he sobbed, "playing on ve Levels

wiv Jackanapes and Lollo, an' _he_ says I'm only just borrowed. I'm

_isn't_ borrowed. I'm Willie Wi-_inkie_! Vere's Coppy?"

"'Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings,'" whispered the Devil, who

had drawn nearer. "You know the rest of the proverb. Don't look as if

you were going to be shot in the morning! Here are the last of your


I turned despairingly to the Three Musketeers, dearest of all my

children to me--to Privates Mulvaney, Ortheris and Learoyd. Surely the

Three would not turn against me as the others had done! I shook hands

with Mulvaney. "Terence, how goes? Are _you_ going to make fun of me,

too?" "'Tis not for me to make fun av you, sorr," said the Irishman,

"knowin' as I _du_ know, fwat good friends we've been for the matter av

three years."

"Fower," said Ortheris, "'twas in the Helanthami barricks, H block, we

was become acquaint, an' 'ere's thankin' you kindly for all the beer

we've drunk twix' that and now."

"Four ut is, then," said Mulvaney. "He an' Dinah Shadd are your

friends, but----" He stood uneasily.

"But what?" I said.

"Savin' your presence, sorr, an' it's more than onwillin' I am to be

hurtin' you; you did not ondersthand. On my sowl an' honour, sorr, you

did not ondersthand. Come along, you two."

But Ortheris stayed for a moment to whisper: "It's Gawd's own trewth,

but there's this 'ere to think. 'Tain't the bloomin' belt that's wrong,

as Peg Barney sez, when he's up for bein' dirty on p'rade. 'Tain't the

bloomin' belt, sir; it's the bloomin' pipeclay." Ere I could seek an

explanation he had joined his companions.

"For a private soldier, a singularly shrewd man," said Mrs. Hauksbee,

and she repeated Ortheris's words. The last drop filled my cup, and I

am ashamed to say that I bade her be quiet in a wholly unjustifiable

tone. I was rewarded by what would have been a notable lecture on

propriety, had I not said to the Devil: "Change that woman to a d----d

doll again! Change 'em all back as they were--as they are. I'm sick of


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


The reproof died on Mrs. Hauksbee's lips, and she moved away

marionette-fashion, Mrs. Mallowe trailing after her. I hastened after

the remainder of the Characters, and they were changed indeed--even as

the Devil had said, who kept at my side.

They limped and stuttered and staggered and mouthed and staggered round

me, till I could endure no more.

"So I am the master of this idiotic puppet-show, am I?" I said

bitterly, watching Mulvaney trying to come to attention by spasms.

"_In saecula saeculorum_," said the Devil, bowing his head; "and you

needn't kick, my dear fellow, because they will concern no one but

yourself by the time you whistle up to the door. Stop reviling me and

uncover. Here's the Master!"

Uncover! I would have dropped on my knees, had not the Devil prevented

me, at sight of the portly form of Maitre François Rabelais, some

time Curé of Meudon. He wore a smoke-stained apron of the colours

of Gargantua. I made a sign which was duly returned. "An Entered

Apprentice in difficulties with his rough ashlar, Worshipful Sir,"

explained the Devil. I was too angry to speak.

Said the Master, rubbing his chin: "Are those things yours?" "Even so,

Worshipful Sir," I muttered, praying inwardly that the Characters would

at least keep quiet while the Master was near. He touched one or two

thoughtfully, put his hand upon my shoulder and started: "By the Great

Bells of Notre Dame, you are in the flesh--the warm flesh!--the flesh I

quitted so long--ah, so long! And you fret and behave unseemly because

of these shadows! Listen now! I, even I, would give my Three, Panurge,

Gargantua and Pantagruel, for one little hour of the life that is in

you. And _I_ am the Master!"

But the words gave me no comfort. I could hear Mrs. Mallowe's joints

cracking--or it might have been merely her stays.

"Worshipful Sir, he will not believe that," said the Devil. "Who live

by shadows lust for shadows. Tell him something more to his need."

The Master grunted contemptuously: "And he is flesh and blood! Know

this, then. The First Law is to make them stand upon their feet, and

the Second is to make them stand upon their feet, and the Third is to

make them stand upon their feet. But, for all that, Trajan is a fisher

of frogs." He passed on, and I could hear him say to himself: "One

hour--one minute--of life in the flesh, and I would sell the Great

Perhaps thrice over!"

"Well," said the Devil, "you've made the Master angry, seen about all

there is to be seen, except the Furnace of First Edition, and, as the

Master is in charge of that, I should avoid it. Now you'd better go.

You know what you ought to do?"

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

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

"All _Hell_, I said, and the Master to tell me what I knew before.

What I want to know is _how_?" "Go and find out," said the Devil. We

turned to the door, and I was aware that my Characters had grouped

themselves at the exit. "They are going to give you an ovation. Think

o' that, now!" said the Devil. I shuddered and dropped my eyes, while

one-and-fifty voices broke into a wailing song, whereof the words, so

far as I recollect, ran:

 But we brought forth and reared in hours

   Of change, alarm, surprise.

 What shelter to grow ripe is ours--

   What leisure to grow wise?

I ran the gauntlet, narrowly missed collision with an impetuous soul (I

hoped he liked his Characters when he met them), and flung free into

the night, where I should have knocked my head against the stars. But

the Devil caught me.

       *       *       *       *       *

The brain-fever bird was fluting across the grey, dewy lawn, and the

punkah had stopped again. "Go to Jehannum and get another man to

pull," I said drowsily. "Exactly," said a voice from the inkpot.

Now the proof that this story is absolutely true lies in the fact that

there will be no other to follow it.


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