Part 8 out of 9
'Sorr,' sez I, 'you've the makin's in you av a great man; but, av you'll
let an ould sodger spake, you're too fond of the-ourisin'.' He shuk hands
wid me and sez, 'Hit high, hit low, there's no plasin' you, Mulvaney.
You've seen me waltzin' through Lungtungpen like a Red Injin widout the
warpaint, an' you say I'm too fond av the-ourisin'?'--'Sorr,' sez I, for I
loved the bhoy; 'I wud waltz wid you in that condishin through _Hell_, an'
so wud the rest av the men!' Thin I wint downshtrame in the flat an' left
him my blessin'. May the Saints carry ut where ut shud go, for he was a
fine upstandin' young orficer,
"To reshume. Fwhat I've said jist shows the use av three-year-olds. Wud
fifty seasoned sodgers have taken Lungtungpen in the dhark that way? No!
They'd know the risk av fever and chill. Let alone the shootin'. Two
hundher' might have done ut. But the three-year-olds know little an' care
less; an' where there's no fear, there's no danger. Catch thim young, feed
thim high, an' by the honor av that great, little man Bobs, behind a good
orficer 'tisn't only dacoits they'd smash wid their clo'es off--'tis
Con-ti-nental Ar-r-r-mies! They tuk Lungtungpen nakid; an' they'd take St.
Pethersburg in their dhrawers! Begad, they would that!
"Here's your pipe, sorr. Shmoke her tinderly wid honey-dew, afther letting
the reek av the Canteen plug die away. But 'tis no good, thanks to you all
the same, fillin' my pouch wid your chopped hay. Canteen baccy's like the
Army. It shpoils a man's taste for moilder things."
So saying, Mulvaney took up his butterfly-net, and returned to barracks.
THE PHANTOM RICKSHAW
May no ill dreams disturb my rest,
Nor Powers of Darkness me molest.
One of the few advantages that India has over England is a great
Knowability. After five years' service a man is directly or indirectly
acquainted with the two or three hundred Civilians in his Province, all
the Messes of ten or twelve Regiments and Batteries, and some fifteen
hundred other people of the non-official caste, in ten years his knowledge
should be doubled, and at the end of twenty he knows, or knows something
about, every Englishman in the Empire, and may travel anywhere and
everywhere without paying hotel-bills.
Globe-trotters who expect entertainment as a right, have, even within my
memory, blunted this open-heartedness, but none the less to-day, if you
belong to the Inner Circle and are neither a Bear nor a Black Sheep, all
houses are open to you, and our small world is very, very kind and
Rickett of Kamartha stayed with Polder of Kumaon some fifteen years ago.
He meant to stay two nights, but was knocked down by rheumatic fever, and
for six weeks disorganized Polder's establishment, stopped Polder's work,
and nearly died in Polder's bedroom. Polder behaves as though he had been
placed under eternal obligation by Rickett, and yearly sends the little
Ricketts a box of presents and toys. It is the same everywhere. The men
who do not take the trouble to conceal from you their opinion that you are
an incompetent ass, and the women who blacken your character and
misunderstand your wife's amusements, will work themselves to the bone in
your behalf if you fall sick or into serious trouble,
Heatherlegh, the Doctor, kept, in addition to his regular practice, a
hospital on his private account--an arrangement of loose boxes for
Incurables, his friend called it--but it was really a sort of fitting-up
shed for craft that had been damaged by stress of weather. The weather in
India is often sultry, and since the tale of bricks is always a fixed
quantity, and the only liberty allowed is permission to work overtime and
get no thanks, men occasionally break down and become as mixed as the
metaphors in this sentence.
Heatherlegh is the dearest doctor that ever was, and his invariable
prescription to all his patients is, "lie low, go slow, and keep cool." He
says that more men are killed by overwork than the importance of this
world justifies. He maintains that overwork slew Pansay, who died under
his hands about three years ago. He has, of course, the right to speak
authoritatively, and he laughs at my theory that there was a crack in
Pansay's head and a little bit of the Dark World came through and pressed
him to death. "Pansay went off the handle," says Heatherlegh, "after the
stimulus of long leave at Home. He may or he may not have behaved like a
blackguard to Mrs. Keith-Wessington. My notion is that the work of the
Katabundi Settlement ran him off his legs, and that he took to brooding
and making much of an ordinary P. & O. flirtation. He certainly was
engaged to Miss Mannering, and she certainly broke off the engagement.
Then he took a feverish chill and all that nonsense about ghosts
developed. Overwork started his illness, kept it alight, and killed him,
poor devil. Write him off to the System--one man to take the work of two
and a half men."
I do not believe this. I used to sit up with Pansay sometimes when
Heatherlegh was called out to patients, and I happened to be within claim.
The man would make me most unhappy by describing in a low, even voice, the
procession that was always passing at the bottom of his bed. He had a sick
man's command of language. When he recovered I suggested that he should
write out the whole affair from beginning to end, knowing that ink might
assist him to ease his mind. When little boys have learned a new bad word
they are never happy till they have chalked it up on a door. And this also
He was in a high fever while he was writing, and the blood-and-thunder
Magazine diction he adopted did not calm him. Two months afterward he was
reported fit for duty, but, in spite of the fact that he was urgently
needed to help an undermanned Commission stagger through a deficit, he
preferred to die; vowing at the last that he was hag-ridden. I got his
manuscript before he died, and this is his version of the affair, dated
My doctor tells me that I need rest and change of air. It is not
improbable that I shall get both ere long--rest that neither the
red-coated messenger nor the midday gun can break, and change of air far
beyond that which any homeward-bound steamer can give me. In the meantime
I am resolved to stay where I am; and, in flat defiance of my doctor's
orders, to take all the world into my confidence. You shall learn for
yourselves the precise nature of my malady; and shall, too, judge for
yourselves whether any man born of woman on this weary earth was ever so
tormented as I.
Speaking now as a condemned criminal might speak ere the drop-bolts are
drawn, my story, wild and hideously improbable as it may appear, demands
at least attention. That it will ever receive credence I utterly
disbelieve. Two months ago I should have scouted as mad or drunk the man
who had dared tell me the like. Two months ago I was the happiest man in
India. To-day, from Peshawur to the sea, there is no one more wretched. My
doctor and I are the only two who know this. His explanation is, that my
brain, digestion, and eyesight are all slightly affected; giving rise to
my frequent and persistent "delusions." Delusions, indeed! I call him a
fool; but he attends me still with the same unwearied smile, the same
bland professional manner, the same neatly trimmed red whiskers, till I
begin to suspect that I am an ungrateful, evil-tempered invalid. But you
shall judge for yourselves.
Three years ago it was my fortune--my great misfortune--to sail from
Gravesend to Bombay, on return from long leave, with one Agnes
Keith-Wessington, wife of an officer on the Bombay side. It does not in
the least concern you to know what manner of woman she was. Be content
with the knowledge that, ere the voyage had ended, both she and I were
desperately and unreasoningly in love with one another. Heaven knows that
I can make the admission now without one particle of vanity. In matters of
this sort there is always one who gives and another who accepts. From the
first day of our ill-omened attachment, I was conscious that Agnes's
passion was a stronger, a more dominant, and--if I may use the
expression--a purer sentiment than mine. Whether she recognized the fact
then, I do not know. Afterward it was bitterly plain to both of as.
Arrived at Bombay in the spring of the year, we went our respective ways,
to meet no more for the next three or four months, when my leave and her
love took us both to Simla. There we spent the season together; and there
my fire of straw burned itself out to a pitiful end with the closing year.
I attempt no excuse. I make no apology. Mrs. Wessington had given up much
for my sake, and was prepared to give up all. From my own lips, in August,
1882, she learned that I was sick of her presence, tired of her company,
and weary of the sound of her voice. Ninety-nine women out of a hundred
would have wearied of me as I wearied of them; seventy-five of that number
would have promptly avenged themselves by active and obtrusive flirtation
with other men. Mrs. Wessington was the hundredth. On her neither my
openly expressed aversion nor the cutting brutalities with which I
garnished our interviews had the least effect.
"Jack, darling!" was her one eternal cuckoo cry: "I'm sure it's all a
mistake--a hideous mistake; and we'll be good friends again some day.
_Please_ forgive me, Jack, dear."
I was the offender, and I knew it. That knowledge transformed my pity into
passive endurance, and, eventually, into blind hate--the same instinct, I
suppose, which prompts a man to savagely stamp on the spider he has but
half killed. And with this hate in my bosom the season of 1882 came to an
Next year we met again at Simla--she with her monotonous face and timid
attempts at reconciliation, and I with loathing of her in every fibre of
my frame. Several times I could not avoid meeting her alone; and on each
occasion her words were identically the same. Still the unreasoning wail
that it was all a "mistake"; and still the hope of eventually "making
friends." I might have seen had I cared to look, that that hope only was
keeping her alive. She grew more wan and thin month by month. You will
agree with me, at least, that such conduct would have driven any one to
despair. It was uncalled for; childish; unwomanly. I maintain that she was
much to blame. And again, sometimes, in the black, fever-stricken
night-watches, I have begun to think that I might have been a little
kinder to her. But that really _is_ a "delusion." I could not have
continued pretending to love her when I didn't, could I? It would have
been unfair to us both.
Last year we met again--on the same terms as before. The same weary
appeals, and the same curt answers from my lips. At least I would make her
see how wholly wrong and hopeless were her attempts at resuming the old
relationship. As the season wore on, we fell apart--that is to say, she
found it difficult to meet me, for I had other and more absorbing
interests to attend to. When I think it over quietly in my sick-room, the
season of 1884 seems a confused nightmare wherein light and shade were
fantastically intermingled--my courtship of little Kitty Mannering; my
hopes, doubts, and fears; our long rides together; my trembling avowal of
attachment; her reply; and now and again a vision of a white face flitting
by in the 'rickshaw with the black and white liveries I once watched for
so earnestly; the wave of Mrs. Wessington's gloved hand; and, when she met
me alone, which was but seldom, the irksome monotony of her appeal. I
loved Kitty Mannering; honestly, heartily loved her, and with my love for
her grew my hatred for Agnes. In August Kitty and I were engaged. The next
day I met those accursed "magpie" _jhampanies_ at the back of Jakko, and,
moved by some passing sentiment of pity, stopped to tell Mrs. Wessington
everything. She knew it already.
"So I hear you're engaged, Jack dear." Then, without a moment's
pause:--"I'm sure it's all a mistake--a hideous mistake. We shall be as
good friends some day, Jack, as we ever were."
My answer might have made even a man wince. It cut the dying woman before
me like the blow of a whip. "Please forgive me, Jack; I didn't mean to
make you angry; but it's true, it's true!"
And Mrs. Wessington broke down completely. I turned away and left her to
finish her journey in peace, feeling, but only for a moment or two, that I
had been an unutterably mean hound. I looked back, and saw that she had
turned her 'rickshaw with the idea, I suppose, of overtaking me.
The scene and its surroundings were photographed on my memory. The
rain-swept sky (we were at the end of the wet weather), the sodden, dingy
pines, the muddy road, and the black powder-riven cliffs formed a gloomy
background against which the black and white liveries of the _jhampanies,_
the yellow-paneled 'rickshaw and Mrs. Wessington's down-bowed golden head
stood out clearly. She was holding her handkerchief in her left hand and
was leaning back exhausted against the 'rickshaw cushions. I turned my
horse up a bypath near the Sanjowlie Reservoir and literally ran away.
Once I fancied I heard a faint call of "Jack!" This may have been
imagination. I never stopped to verify it. Ten minutes later I came across
Kitty on horseback; and, in the delight of a long ride with her, forgot
all about the interview.
A week later Mrs. Wessington died, and the inexpressible burden of her
existence was removed from my life. I went Plainsward perfectly happy.
Before three months were over I had forgotten all about her, except that
at times the discovery of some of her old letters reminded me unpleasantly
of our bygone relationship. By January I had disinterred what was left of
our correspondence from among my scattered belongings and had burned it. At
the beginning of April of this year, 1885, I was at Simla--semi-deserted
Simla--once more, and was deep in lover's talks and walks with Kitty. It
was decided that we should be married at the end of June. You will
understand, therefore, that, loving Kitty as I did, I am not saying too
much when I pronounce myself to have been, at that time, the happiest man
Fourteen delightful days passed almost before I noticed their flight.
Then, aroused to the sense of what was proper among mortals circumstanced
as we were, I pointed out to Kitty that an engagement ring was the outward
and visible sign of her dignity as an engaged girl; and that she must
forthwith come to Hamilton's to be measured for one. Up to that moment, I
give you my word, we had completely forgotten so trivial a matter. To
Hamilton's we accordingly went on the 15th of April, 1885. Remember
that--whatever my doctor may say to the contrary--I was then in perfect
health, enjoying a well-balanced mind and an _absolutely_ tranquil spirit.
Kitty and I entered Hamilton's shop together, and there, regardless of the
order of affairs, I measured Kitty for the ring in the presence of the
amused assistant. The ring was a sapphire with two diamonds. We then rode
out down the slope that leads to the Combermere Bridge and Peliti's shop.
While my Waler was cautiously feeling his way over the loose shale, and
Kitty was laughing and chattering at my side--while all Simla, that is to
say as much of it as had then come from the Plains, was grouped round the
Reading-room and Peliti's veranda,--I was aware that some one, apparently
at a vast distance, was calling me by my Christian name. It struck me that
I had heard the voice before, but when and where I could not at once
determine. In the short space it took to cover the road between the path
from Hamilton's shop and the first plank of the Combermere Bridge I had
thought over half a dozen people who might have committed such a solecism,
and had eventually decided that it must have been singing in my ears.
Immediately opposite Peliti's shop my eye was arrested by the sight of
four _jhampanies_ in "magpie" livery, pulling a yellow-paneled, cheap,
bazar 'rickshaw. In a moment my mind flew back to the previous season and
Mrs. Wessington with a sense of irritation and disgust. Was it not enough
that the woman was dead and done with, without her black and white
servitors reappearing to spoil the day's happiness? Whoever employed them
now I thought I would call upon, and ask as a personal favor to change her
_jhampanies'_ livery. I would hire the men myself, and, if necessary, buy
their coats from off their backs. It is impossible to say here what a
flood of undesirable memories their presence evoked.
"Kitty," I cried, "there are poor Mrs. Wessington's _jhampanies_ turned up
again! I wonder who has them now?"
Kitty had known Mrs. Wessington slightly last season, and had always been
interested in the sickly woman.
"What? Where?" she asked. "I can't see them anywhere."
Even as she spoke, her horse, swerving from a laden mule, threw himself
directly in front of the advancing 'rickshaw. I had scarcely time to utter
a word of warning when, to my unutterable horror, horse and rider passed
_through_ men and carriage as if they had been thin air.
"What's the matter?" cried Kitty; "what made you call out so foolishly,
Jack? If I _am_ engaged I don't want all creation to know about it. There
was lots of space between the mule and the veranda; and, if you think I
Whereupon wilful Kitty set off, her dainty little head in the air, at a
hand-gallop in the direction of the Band-stand; fully expecting, as she
herself afterward told me, that I should follow her. What was the matter?
Nothing indeed. Either that I was mad or drunk, or that Simla was haunted
with devils. I reined in my impatient cob, and turned round. The 'rickshaw
had turned too, and now stood immediately facing me, near the left railing
of the Combermere Bridge.
"Jack! Jack, darling!" (There was no mistake about the words this time:
they rang through my brain as if they had been shouted in my ear.) "It's
some hideous mistake, I'm sure. _Please_ forgive me, Jack, and let's be
The 'rickshaw-hood had fallen back, and inside, as I hope and pray daily
for the death I dread by night, sat Mrs. Keith-Wessington, handkerchief in
hand, and golden head bowed on her breast,
How long I stared motionless I do not know. Finally, I was aroused by my
syce taking the Waler's bridle and asking whether I was ill. From the
horrible to the commonplace is but a step. I tumbled off my horse and
dashed, half fainting, into Peliti's for a glass of cherry-brandy. There
two or three couples were gathered round the coffee-tables discussing the
gossip of the day. Their trivialities were more comforting to me just then
than the consolations of religion could have been. I plunged into the
midst of the conversation at once; chatted, laughed, and jested with a
face (when I caught a glimpse of it in a mirror) as white and drawn as
that of a corpse. Three or four men noticed my condition; and, evidently
setting it down to the results of over-many pegs, charitably endeavored to
draw me apart from the rest of the loungers. But I refused to be led away,
I wanted the company of my kind--as a child rushes into the midst of the
dinner-party after a fright in the dark. I must have talked for about ten
minutes or so, though it seemed an eternity to me, when I heard Kitty's
clear voice outside inquiring for me. In another minute she had entered
the shop, prepared to roundly upbraid me for failing so signally in my
duties. Something in my face stopped her.
"Why, Jack," she cried, "what _have_ you been doing? What _has_ happened?
Are you ill?" Thus driven into a direct lie, I said that the sun had been
a little too much for me. It was close upon five o'clock of a cloudy April
afternoon, and the sun had been hidden all day. I saw my mistake as soon
as the words were out of my mouth: attempted to recover it; blundered
hopelessly and followed Kitty in a regal rage, out of doors, amid the
smiles of my acquaintances. I made some excuse (I have forgotten what) on
the score of my feeling faint; and cantered away to my hotel, leaving
Kitty to finish the ride by herself.
In my room I sat down and tried calmly to reason out the matter. Here was
I, Theobald Jack Pansay, a well-educated Bengal Civilian in the year of
grace 1885, presumably sane, certainly healthy, driven in terror from my
sweetheart's side by the apparition of a woman who had been dead and
buried eight months ago. These were facts that I could not blink. Nothing
was further from my thought than any memory of Mrs. Wessington when Kitty
and I left Hamilton's shop. Nothing was more utterly commonplace than the
stretch of wall opposite Peliti's. It was broad daylight. The road was
full of people; and yet here, look you, in defiance of every law of
probability, in direct outrage of Nature's ordinance, there had appeared
to me a face from the grave.
Kitty's Arab had gone _through_ the 'rickshaw: so that my first hope that
some woman marvelously like Mrs. Wessington had hired the carriage and the
coolies with their old livery was lost. Again and again I went round this
treadmill of thought; and again and again gave up baffled and in despair.
The voice was as inexplicable as the apparition, I had originally some
wild notion of confiding it all to Kitty; of begging her to marry me at
once; and in her arms defying the ghostly occupant of the 'rickshaw.
"After all," I argued, "the presence of the 'rickshaw is in itself enough
to prove the existence of a spectral illusion. One may see ghosts of men
and women, but surely never of coolies and carriages. The whole thing is
absurd. Fancy the ghost of a hillman!"
Next morning I sent a penitent note to Kitty, imploring her to overlook my
strange conduct of the previous afternoon. My Divinity was still very
wroth, and a personal apology was necessary. I explained, with a fluency
born of nightlong pondering over a falsehood, that I had been attacked
with a sudden palpitation of the heart--the result of indigestion. This
eminently practical solution had its effect; and Kitty and I rode out that
afternoon with the shadow of my first lie dividing us.
Nothing would please her save a canter round Jakko. With my nerves still
unstrung from the previous night I feebly protested against the notion,
suggesting Observatory Hill, Jutogh, the Boileaugunge road--anything
rather than the Jakko round. Kitty was angry and a little hurt: so I
yielded from fear of provoking further misunderstanding, and we set out
together toward Chota Simla. We walked a greater part of the way, and,
according to our custom, cantered from a mile or so below the Convent to
the stretch of level road by the Sanjowlie Reservoir. The wretched horses
appeared to fly, and my heart beat quicker and quicker as we neared the
crest of the ascent. My mind had been full of Mrs. Wessington all the
afternoon; and every inch of the Jakko road bore witness to our old-time
walks and talks. The bowlders were full of it; the pines sang it aloud
overhead; the rain-fed torrents giggled and chuckled unseen over the
shameful story; and the wind in my ears chanted the iniquity aloud.
As a fitting climax, in the middle of the level men call the Ladies' Mile
the Horror was awaiting me. No other 'rickshaw was in sight--only the four
black and white _jhampanies_, the yellow-paneled carriage, and the golden
head of the woman within--all apparently just as I had left them eight
months and one fortnight ago! For an instant I fancied that Kitty _must_
see what I saw--we were so marvelously sympathetic in all things. Her next
words undeceived me--"Not a soul in sight! Come along, Jack, and I'll race
you to the Reservoir buildings!" Her wiry little Arab was off like a bird,
my Waler following close behind, and in this order we dashed under the
cliffs. Half a minute brought us within fifty yards of the 'rickshaw, I
pulled my Waler and fell back a little. The 'rickshaw was directly in the
middle of the road; and once more the Arab passed through it, my horse
following. "Jack! Jack dear! _Please_ forgive me," rang with a wail in my
ears, and, after an interval:--"It's all a mistake, a hideous mistake!"
I spurred my horse like a man possessed. When I turned my head at the
Reservoir works, the black and white liveries were still
waiting--patiently waiting--under the grey hillside, and the wind brought
me a mocking echo of the words I had just heard. Kitty bantered me a good
deal on my silence throughout the remainder of the ride, I had been
talking up till then wildly and at random. To save my life I could not
speak afterward naturally, and from Sanjowlie to the Church wisely held my
I was to dine with the Mannerings that night, and had barely time to
canter home to dress. On the road to Elysium Hill I overheard two men
talking together in the dusk.--"It's a curious thing," said one, "how
completely all trace of it disappeared. You know my wife was insanely fond
of the woman ('never could see anything in her myself), and wanted me to
pick up her old 'rickshaw and coolies if they were to be got for love or
money. Morbid sort of fancy I call it; but I've got to do what the
_Memsahib_ tells me. Would you believe that the man she hired it from
tells me that all four of the men--they were brothers--died of cholera on
the way to Hard-war, poor devils; and the 'rickshaw has been broken up by
the man himself. 'Told me he never used a dead _Memsahib's_ 'rickshaw.
'Spoiled his luck. Queer notion, wasn't it? Fancy poor little Mrs.
Wessington spoiling any one's luck except her own!" I laughed aloud at
this point; and my laugh jarred on me as I uttered it. So there _were_
ghosts of 'rickshaws after all, and ghostly employments in the other
world! How much did Mrs. Wessington give her men? What were their hours?
Where did they go?
And for visible answer to my last question I saw the infernal Thing
blocking my path in the twilight. The dead travel fast, and by short cuts
unknown to ordinary coolies. I laughed aloud a second time and checked my
laughter suddenly, for I was afraid I was going mad. Mad to a certain
extent I must have been, for I recollect that I reined in my horse at the
head of the 'rickshaw, and politely wished Mrs. Wessington "Good-evening,"
Her answer was one I knew only too well. I listened to the end; and
replied that I had heard it all before, but should be delighted if she had
anything further to say. Some malignant devil stronger than I must have
entered into me that evening, for I have a dim recollection of talking the
commonplaces of the day for five minutes to the Thing in front of me.
"Mad as a hatter, poor devil--or drunk. Max, try and get him to come
Surely _that_ was not Mrs. Wessington's voice! The two men had overheard
me speaking to the empty air, and had returned to look after me. They were
very kind and considerate, and from their words evidently gathered that I
was extremely drunk, I thanked them confusedly and cantered away to my
hotel, there changed, and arrived at the Mannerings' ten minutes late. I
pleaded the darkness of the night as an excuse; was rebuked by Kitty for
my unlover-like tardiness; and sat down.
The conversation had already become general; and under cover of it, I was
addressing some tender small talk to my sweetheart when I was aware that
at the further end of the table a short red-whiskered man was describing,
with much embroidery, his encounter with a mad unknown that evening.
A few sentences convinced me that he was repeating the incident of half an
hour ago. In the middle of the story he looked round for applause, as
professional story-tellers do, caught my eye, and straightway collapsed.
There was a moment's awkward silence, and the red-whiskered man muttered
something to the effect that he had "forgotten the rest," thereby
sacrificing a reputation as a good story-teller which he had built up for
six seasons past. I blessed him from the bottom of my heart, and--went on
with my fish.
In the fulness of time that dinner came to an end; and with genuine regret
I tore myself away from Kitty--as certain as I was of my own existence
that It would be waiting for me outside the door. The red-whiskered man,
who had been introduced to me as Doctor Heatherlegh of Simla, volunteered
to bear me company as far as our roads lay together. I accepted his offer
My instinct had not deceived me. It lay in readiness in the Mall, and, in
what seemed devilish mockery of our ways, with a lighted headlamp. The
red-whiskered man went to the point at once, in a manner that showed he
had been thinking over it all dinner time.
"I say, Pansay, what the deuce was the matter with you this evening on the
Elysium road?" The suddenness of the question wrenched an answer from me
before I was aware.
"That!" said I, pointing to It.
"_That_ may be either D.T. or Eyes for aught I know. Now you don't liquor.
I saw as much at dinner, so it can't be _D.T_. There's nothing whatever
where you're pointing, though you're sweating and trembling with fright
like a scared pony. Therefore, I conclude that it's Eyes. And I ought to
understand all about them. Come along home with me. I'm on the Blessington
To my intense delight the 'rickshaw instead of waiting for us kept about
twenty yards ahead--and this, too, whether we walked, trotted, or
cantered. In the course of that long night ride I had told my companion
almost as much as I have told you here.
"Well, you've spoiled one of the best tales I've ever laid tongue to,"
said he, "but I'll forgive you for the sake of what you've gone through.
Now come home and do what I tell you; and when I've cured you, young man,
let this be a lesson to you to steer clear of women and indigestible food
till the day of your death."
The 'rickshaw kept steady in front; and my red-whiskered friend seemed to
derive great pleasure from my account of its exact whereabouts.
"Eyes, Pansay--all Eyes, Brain, and Stomach. And the greatest of these
three is Stomach. You've too much conceited Brain, too little Stomach, and
thoroughly unhealthy Eyes. Get your Stomach straight and the rest follows.
And all that's French for a liver pill. I'll take sole medical charge of
you from this hour! for you're too interesting a phenomenon to be passed
By this time we were deep in the shadow of the Blessington lower road and
the 'rickshaw came to a dead stop under a pine-clad, overhanging shale
cliff. Instinctively I halted too, giving my reason. Heatherlegh rapped
out an oath.
"Now, if you think I'm going to spend a cold night on the hillside for the
sake of a Stomach-_cum_-Brain-_cum_-Eye illusion ... Lord, ha' mercy!
There was a muffled report, a blinding smother of dust just in front of
us, a crack, the noise of rent boughs, and about ten yards of the
cliff-side--pines, undergrowth, and all--slid down into the road below,
completely blocking it up. The uprooted trees swayed and tottered for a
moment like drunken giants in the gloom, and then fell prone among their
fellows with a thunderous crash. Our two horses stood motionless and
sweating with fear. As soon as the rattle of falling earth and stone had
subsided, my companion muttered:--"Man, if we'd gone forward we should
have been ten feet deep in our graves by now. 'There are more things in
heaven and earth.' ... Come home, Pansay, and thank God. I want a peg
We retraced our way over the Church Ridge, and I arrived at Dr.
Heatherlegh's house shortly after midnight.
His attempts toward my cure commenced almost immediately, and for a week I
never left his sight. Many a time in the course of that week did I bless
the good-fortune which had thrown me in contact with Simla's best and
kindest doctor. Day by day my spirits grew lighter and more equable. Day
by day, too, I became more and more inclined to fall in with Heatherlegh's
"spectral illusion" theory, implicating eyes, brain, and stomach. I wrote
to Kitty, telling her that a slight sprain caused by a fall from my horse
kept me indoors for a few days; and that I should be recovered before she
had time to regret my absence.
Heatherlegh's treatment was simple to a degree. It consisted of liver
pills, cold-water baths, and strong exercise, taken in the dusk or at
early dawn--for, as he sagely observed:--"A man with a sprained ankle
doesn't walk a dozen miles a day, and your young woman might be wondering
if she saw you."
At the end of the week, after much examination of pupil and pulse, and
strict injunctions as to diet and pedestrianism, Heatherlegh dismissed me
as brusquely as he had taken charge of me. Here is his parting
benediction:--"Man, I certify to your mental cure, and that's as much as
to say I've cured most of your bodily ailments. Now, get your traps out of
this as soon as you can; and be off to make love to Miss Kitty."
I was endeavoring to express my thanks for his kindness. He cut me short.
"Don't think I did this because I like you. I gather that you've behaved
like a blackguard all through. But, all the same, you're a phenomenon, and
as queer a phenomenon as you are a blackguard. No!"--checking me a second
time--"not a rupee please. Go out and see if you can find the
eyes-brain-and-stomach business again. I'll give you a lakh for each time
you see it."
Half an hour later I was in the Mannerings' drawing-room with Kitty--drunk
with the intoxication of present happiness and the foreknowledge that I
should never more be troubled with Its hideous presence. Strong in the
sense of my new-found security, I proposed a ride at once; and, by
preference, a canter round Jakko.
Never had I felt so well, so overladen with vitality and mere animal
spirits, as I did on the afternoon of the 30th of April. Kitty was
delighted at the change in my appearance, and complimented me on it in her
delightfully frank and outspoken manner. We left the Mannerings' house
together, laughing and talking, and cantered along the Chota Simla road as
I was in haste to reach the Sanjowlie Reservoir and there make my
assurance doubly sure. The horses did their best, but seemed all too slow
to my impatient mind, Kitty was astonished at my boisterousness. "Why,
Jack!" she cried at last, "you are behaving like a child, What are you
We were just below the Convent, and from sheer wantonness I was making my
Waler plunge and curvet across the road as I tickled it with the loop of
"Doing?" I answered; "nothing, dear. That's just it. If you'd been doing
nothing for a week except lie up, you'd be as riotous as I.
"'Singing and murmuring in your feastful mirth,
Joying to feel yourself alive;
Lord over Nature, Lord of the visible Earth,
Lord of the senses five.'"
My quotation was hardly out of my lips before we had rounded the corner
above the Convent; and a few yards further on could see across to
Sanjowlie. In the centre of the level road stood the black and white
liveries, the yellow-paneled 'rickshaw, and Mrs. Keith-Wessington. I
pulled up, looked, rubbed my eyes, and, I believe, must have said
something. The next thing I knew was that I was lying face downward on the
road, with Kitty kneeling above me in tears.
"Has it gone, child!" I gasped. Kitty only wept more bitterly.
"Has what gone, Jack dear? what does it all mean? There must be a mistake
somewhere, Jack. A hideous mistake." Her last words brought me to my
feet--mad--raving for the time being.
"Yes, there _is_ a mistake somewhere," I repeated, "a hideous mistake.
Come and look at It."
I have an indistinct idea that I dragged Kitty by the wrist along the road
up to where It stood, and implored her for pity's sake to speak to It; to
tell It that we were betrothed; that neither Death nor Hell could break
the tie between us: and Kitty only knows how much more to the same effect.
Now and again I appealed passionately to the Terror in the 'rickshaw to
bear witness to all I had said, and to release me from a torture that was
killing me. As I talked I suppose I must have told Kitty of my old
relations with Mrs. Wessington, for I saw her listen intently with white
face and blazing eyes.
"Thank you, Mr. Pansay," she said, "that's _quite_ enough. _Syce ghora
The syces, impassive as Orientals always are, had come up with the
recaptured horses; and as Kitty sprang into her saddle I caught hold of
the bridle, entreating her to hear me out and forgive. My answer was the
cut of her riding-whip across my face from mouth to eye, and a word or two
of farewell that even now I cannot write down. So I judged, and judged
rightly, that Kitty knew all; and I staggered back to the side of the
'rickshaw. My face was cut and bleeding, and the blow of the riding-whip
had raised a livid blue wheal on it. I had no self-respect. Just then,
Heatherlegh, who must have been following Kitty and me at a distance,
"Doctor," I said, pointing to my face, "here's Miss Mannering's signature
to my order of dismissal and ... I'll thank you for that lakh as soon as
Heatherlegh's face, even in my abject misery, moved me to laughter.
"I'll stake my professional reputation"--he began. "Don't be a fool," I
whispered. "I've lost my life's happiness and you'd better take me home."
As I spoke the 'rickshaw was gone. Then I lost all knowledge of what was
passing. The crest of Jakko seemed to heave and roll like the crest of a
cloud and fall in upon me.
Seven days later (on the 7th of May, that is to say) I was aware that I
was lying in Heatherlegh's room as weak as a little child. Heatherlegh was
watching me intently from behind the papers on his writing-table. His
first words were not encouraging; but I was too far spent to be much moved
"Here's Miss Kitty has sent back your letters. You corresponded a good
deal, you young people. Here's a packet that looks like a ring, and a
cheerful sort of a note from Mannering Papa, which I've taken the liberty
of reading and burning. The old gentleman's not pleased with you."
"And Kitty?" I asked, dully.
"Rather more drawn than her father from what she says. By the same token
you must have been letting out any number of queer reminiscences just
before I met you. 'Says that a man who would have behaved to a woman as
you did to Mrs. Wessington ought to kill himself out of sheer pity for his
kind. She's a hotheaded little virago, your mash. 'Will have it too that
you were suffering from D. T. when that row on the Jakko road turned up,
'Says she'll die before she ever speaks to you again."
I groaned and turned over on the other side.
"Now you've got your choice, my friend. This engagement has to be broken
off; and the Mannerings don't want to be too hard on you. Was it broken
through D, T. or epileptic fits? Sorry I can't offer you a better exchange
unless you'd prefer hereditary insanity. Say the word and I'll tell 'em
it's fits. All Simla knows about that scene on the Ladies' Mile. Come!
I'll give you five minutes to think over it."
During those five minutes I believe that I explored thoroughly the lowest
circles of the Inferno which it is permitted man to tread on earth. And at
the same time I myself was watching myself faltering through the dark
labyrinths of doubt, misery, and utter despair. I wondered, as Heatherlegh
in his chair might have wondered, which dreadful alternative I should
adopt. Presently I heard myself answering in a voice that I hardly
"They're confoundedly particular about morality in these parts. Give 'em
fits, Heatherlegh, and my love. Now let me sleep a bit longer."
Then my two selves joined, and it was only I (half crazed, devil-driven I)
that tossed in my bed, tracing step by step the history of the past month.
"But I am in Simla," I kept repeating to myself. "I, Jack Pansay, am in
Simla, and there are no ghosts here. It's unreasonable of that woman to
pretend there are. Why couldn't Agnes have left me alone? I never did her
any harm. It might just as well have been me as Agnes. Only I'd never have
come back on purpose to kill _her_. Why can't I be left alone--left alone
It was high noon when I first awoke: and the sun was low in the sky before
I slept--slept as the tortured criminal sleeps on his rack, too worn to
feel further pain.
Next day I could not leave my bed. Heatherlegh told me in the morning that
he had received an answer from Mr. Mannering, and that, thanks to his
(Heatherlegh's) friendly offices, the story of my affliction had traveled
through the length and breadth of Simla, where I was on all sides much
"And that's rather more than you deserve," he concluded, pleasantly,
"though the Lord knows you've been going through a pretty severe mill.
Never mind; we'll cure you yet, you perverse phenomenon."
I declined firmly to be cured, "You've been much too good to me already,
old man," said I; "but I don't think I need trouble you further."
In my heart I knew that nothing Heatherlegh could do would lighten the
burden that had been laid upon me.
With that knowledge came also a sense of hopeless, impotent rebellion
against the unreasonableness of it all. There were scores of men no better
than I whose punishments had at least been reserved for another world; and
I felt that it was bitterly, cruelly unfair that I alone should have been
singled out for so hideous a fate. This mood would in time give place to
another where it seemed that the 'rickshaw and I were the only realities
in a world of shadows; that Kitty was a ghost; that Mannering,
Heatherlegh, and all the other men and women I knew were all ghosts; and
the great, grey hills themselves but vain shadows devised to torture me.
From mood to mood I tossed backward and forward for seven weary days; my
body growing daily stronger and stronger, until the bedroom looking-glass
told me that I had returned to everyday life, and was as other men once
more. Curiously enough my face showed no signs of the struggle I had gone
through. It was pale indeed, but as expressionless and commonplace as
ever. I had expected some permanent alteration--visible evidence of the
disease that was eating me away. I found nothing.
On the 15th of May I left Heatherlegh's house at eleven o'clock in the
morning; and the instinct of the bachelor drove me to the Club. There I
found that every man knew my story as told by Heatherlegh, and was, in
clumsy fashion, abnormally kind and attentive. Nevertheless I recognized
that for the rest of my natural life I should be among but not of my
fellows; and I envied very bitterly indeed the laughing coolies on the
Mall below. I lunched at the Club, and at four o'clock wandered aimlessly
down the Mall in the vague hope of meeting Kitty. Close to the Band-stand
the black and white liveries joined me; and I heard Mrs. Wessington's old
appeal at my side. I had been expecting this ever since I came out; and
was only surprised at her delay. The phantom 'rickshaw and I went side by
side along the Chota Simla road in silence. Close to the bazar, Kitty and
a man on horseback overtook and passed us. For any sign she gave I might
have been a dog in the road. She did not even pay me the compliment of
quickening her pace; though the rainy afternoon had served for an excuse.
So Kitty and her companion, and I and my ghostly Light-o'-Love, crept
round Jakko in couples. The road was streaming with water; the pines
dripped like roof-pipes on the rocks below, and the air was full of fine,
driving rain. Two or three times I found myself saying to myself almost
aloud: "I'm Jack Pansay on leave at Simla--_at Simla!_ Everyday, ordinary
Simla. I mustn't forget that--I mustn't forget that." Then I would try to
recollect some of the gossip I had heard at the Club: the prices of
So-and-So's horses--anything, in fact, that related to the workaday
Anglo-Indian world I knew so well. I even repeated the multiplication-
table rapidly to myself, to make quite sure that I was not taking leave
of my senses. It gave me much comfort; and must have prevented my hearing
Mrs. Wessington for a time.
Once more I wearily climbed the Convent slope and entered the level road.
Here Kitty and the man started off at a canter, and I was left alone with
Mrs. Wessington. "Agnes," said I, "will you put back your hood and tell me
what it all means?" The hood dropped noiselessly, and I was face to face
with my dead and buried mistress. She was wearing the dress in which I had
last seen her alive; carried the same tiny handkerchief in her right hand;
and the same cardcase in her left. (A woman eight months dead with a
cardcase!) I had to pin myself down to the multiplication-table, and to
set both hands on the stone parapet of the road, to assure myself that
that at least was real.
"Agnes," I repeated, "for pity's sake tell me what it all means." Mrs.
Wessington leaned forward, with that odd, quick turn of the head I used to
know so well, and spoke.
If my story had not already so madly overleaped the bounds of all human
belief I should apologize to you now. As I know that no one--no, not even
Kitty, for whom it is written as some sort of justification of my
conduct--will believe me, I will go on. Mrs. Wessington spoke and I walked
with her from the Sanjowlie road to the turning below the
Commander-in-Chief's house as I might walk by the side of any living
woman's 'rickshaw, deep in conversation. The second and most tormenting of
my moods of sickness had suddenly laid hold upon me, and like the Prince
in Tennyson's poem, "I seemed to move amid a world of ghosts." There had
been a garden-party at the Commander-in-Chief's, and we two joined the
crowd of homeward-bound folk. As I saw them then it seemed that _they_
were the shadows--impalpable, fantastic shadows--that divided for Mrs.
Wessington's 'rickshaw to pass through. What we said during the course of
that weird interview I cannot--indeed, I dare not--tell. Heatherlegh's
comment would have been a short laugh and a remark that I had been
"mashing a brain-eye-and-stomach chimera." It was a ghastly and yet in
some indefinable way a marvelously dear experience. Could it be possible,
I wondered, that I was in this life to woo a second time the woman I had
killed by my own neglect and cruelty?
I met Kitty on the homeward road--a shadow among shadows.
If I were to describe all the incidents of the next fortnight in their
order, my story would never come to an end; and your patience would be
exhausted. Morning after morning and evening after evening the ghostly
'rickshaw and I used to wander through Simla together. Wherever I went
there the four black and white liveries followed me and bore me company to
and from my hotel. At the Theatre I found them amid the crowd of yelling
_jhampanies_; outside the Club veranda, after a long evening of whist; at
the Birthday Ball, waiting patiently for my reappearance; and in broad
daylight when I went calling. Save that it cast no shadow, the 'rickshaw
was in every respect as real to look upon as one of wood and iron. More
than once, indeed, I have had to check myself from warning some
hard-riding friend against cantering over it. More than once I have walked
down the Mall deep in conversation with Mrs. Wessington to the unspeakable
amazement of the passers-by.
Before I had been out and about a week I learned that the "fit" theory had
been discarded in favor of insanity. However, I made no change in my mode
of life. I called, rode, and dined out as freely as ever. I had a passion
for the society of my kind which I had never felt before; I hungered to be
among the realities of life; and at the same time I felt vaguely unhappy
when I had been separated too long from my ghostly companion. It would be
almost impossible to describe my varying moods from the 15th of May up to
The presence of the 'rickshaw filled me by turns with horror, blind fear,
a dim sort of pleasure, and utter despair. I dared not leave Simla; and I
knew that my stay there was killing me. I knew, moreover, that it was my
destiny to die slowly and a little every day. My only anxiety was to get
the penance over as quietly as might be. Alternately I hungered for a
sight of Kitty and watched her outrageous flirtations with my
successor--to speak more accurately, my successors--with amused interest.
She was as much out of my life as I was out of hers. By day I wandered
with Mrs. Wessington almost content. By night I implored Heaven to let me
return to the world as I used to know it. Above all these varying moods
lay the sensation of dull, numbing wonder that the Seen and the Unseen
should mingle so strangely on this earth to hound one poor soul to its
_August 27._--Heatherlegh has been indefatigable in his attendance on me;
and only yesterday told me that I ought to send in an application for sick
leave. An application to escape the company of a phantom! A request that
the Government would graciously permit me to get rid of five ghosts and an
airy 'rickshaw by going to England! Heatherlegh's proposition moved me to
almost hysterical laughter. I told him that I should await the end quietly
at Simla; and I am sure that the end is not far off. Believe me that I
dread its advent more than any word can say; and I torture myself nightly
with a thousand speculations as to the manner of my death.
Shall I die in my bed decently and as an English gentleman should die; or,
in one last walk on the Mall, will my soul be wrenched from me to take its
place forever and ever by the side of that ghastly phantasm? Shall I
return to my old lost allegiance in the next world, or shall I meet Agnes
loathing her and bound to her side through all eternity? Shall we two
hover over the scene of our lives till the end of Time? As the day of my
death draws nearer, the intense horror that all living flesh feels toward
escaped spirits from beyond the grave grows more and more powerful. It is
an awful thing to go down quick among the dead with scarcely one-half of
your life completed. It is a thousand times more awful to wait as I do in
your midst, for I know not what unimaginable terror. Pity me, at least on
the score of my "delusion," for I know you will never believe what I have
written here. Yet as surely as ever a man was done to death by the Powers
of Darkness I am that man.
In justice, too, pity her. For as surely as ever woman was killed by man,
I killed Mrs. Wessington. And the last portion of my punishment is even
now upon me.
ON THE STRENGTH OF A LIKENESS
If your mirror be broken, look into still water; but have a care that you
do not fall in.--_Hindu Proverb._
Next to a requited attachment, one of the most convenient things that a
young man can carry about with him at the beginning of his career, is an
unrequited attachment. It makes him feel important and business-like, and
_blase_, and cynical; and whenever he has a touch of fever, or suffers
from want of exercise, he can mourn over his lost love, and be very happy
in a tender, twilight fashion,
Hannasyde's affair of the heart had been a godsend to him. It was four
years old, and the girl had long since given up thinking of it. She had
married and had many cares of her own. In the beginning, she had told
Hannasyde that, "while she could never be anything more than a sister to
him, she would always take the deepest interest in his welfare." This
startlingly new and original remark gave Hannasyde something to think over
for two years; and his own vanity filled in the other twenty-four months.
Hannasyde was quite different from Phil Garron, but, none the less, had
several points in common with that far too lucky man.
He kept his unrequited attachment by him as men keep a well-smoked
pipe--for comfort's sake, and because it had grown dear in the using. It
brought him happily through one Simla season. Hannasyde was not lovely.
There was a crudity in his manners, and a roughness in the way in which he
helped a lady on to her horse, that did not attract the other sex to him.
Even if he had cast about for their favor, which he did not. He kept his
wounded heart all to himself for a while.
Then trouble came to him. All who go to Simla know the slope from the
Telegraph to the Public Works Office. Hannasyde was loafing up the hill,
one September morning between calling hours, when a 'rickshaw came down in
a hurry, and in the 'rickshaw sat the living, breathing image of the girl
who had made him so happily unhappy. Hannasyde leaned against the railings
and gasped. He wanted to run downhill after the 'rickshaw, but that was
impossible; so he went forward with most of his blood in his temples. It
was impossible, for many reasons, that the woman in the 'rickshaw could be
the girl he had known. She was, he discovered later, the wife of a man
from Dindigul, or Coimbatore, or some out-of-the-way place, and she had
come up to Simla early in the season for the good of her health. She was
going back to Dindigul, or wherever it was, at the end of the season; and
in all likelihood would never return to Simla again; her proper
Hill-station being Ootacamund. That night Hannasyde, raw and savage from
the raking up of all old feelings, took counsel with himself for one
measured hour. What he decided upon was this; and you must decide for
yourself how much genuine affection for the old Love, and how much a very
natural inclination to go abroad and enjoy himself, affected the decision.
Mrs. Landys-Haggert would never in all human likelihood cross his path
again. So whatever he did didn't much matter. She was marvelously like the
girl who "took a deep interest" and the rest of the formula. All things
considered, it would be pleasant to make the acquaintance of Mrs.
Landys-Haggert, and for a little time--only a very little time--to make
believe that he was with Alice Chisane again. Every one is more or less
mad on one point. Hannasyde's particular monomania was his old love, Alice
He made it his business to get introduced to Mrs. Haggert, and the
introduction prospered. He also made it his business to see as much as he
could of that lady. When a man is in earnest as to interviews, the
facilities which Simla offers are startling. There are garden-parties, and
tennis-parties, and picnics, and luncheons at Annandale, and
rifle-matches, and dinners and balls; besides rides and walks, which are
matters of private arrangement. Hannasyde had started with the intention
of seeing a likeness, and he ended by doing much more. He wanted to be
deceived, he meant to be deceived, and he deceived himself very
thoroughly. Not only were the face and figure the face and figure of Alice
Chisane, but the voice and lower tones were exactly the same, and so were
the turns of speech; and the little mannerisms, that every woman has, of
gait and gesticulation, were absolutely and identically the same. The turn
of the head was the same; the tired look in the eyes at the end of a long
walk was the same; the stoop-and-wrench over the saddle to hold in a
pulling horse was the same; and once, most marvelous of all, Mrs.
Landys-Haggert singing to herself in the next room, while Hannasyde was
waiting to take her for a ride, hummed, note for note, with a throaty
quiver of the voice in the second line, "Poor Wandering One!" exactly as
Alice Chisane had hummed it for Hannasyde in the dusk of an English
drawing-room. In the actual woman herself--in the soul of her--there was
not the least likeness; she and Alice Chisane being cast in different
moulds. But all that Hannasyde wanted to know and see and think about, was
this maddening and perplexing likeness of face and voice and manner. He
was bent on making a fool of himself that way; and he was in no sort
Open and obvious devotion from any sort of man is always pleasant to any
sort of woman; but Mrs. Landys-Haggert, being a woman of the world, could
make nothing of Hannasyde's admiration.
He would take any amount of trouble--he was a selfish man habitually--to
meet and forestall, if possible, her wishes. Anything she told him to do
was law; and he was, there could be no doubting it, fond of her company so
long as she talked to him, and kept on talking about trivialities. But
when she launched into expression of her personal views and her wrongs,
those small social differences that make the spice of Simla life,
Hannasyde was neither pleased nor interested. He didn't want to know
anything about Mrs. Landys-Haggert, or her experiences in the past--she
had traveled nearly all over the world, and could talk cleverly--he wanted
the likeness of Alice Chisane before his eyes and her voice in his ears.
Anything outside that, reminding him of another personality, jarred, and
he showed that it did.
Under the new Post Office, one evening, Mrs. Landys-Haggert turned on him,
and spoke her mind shortly and without warning. "Mr. Hannasyde," said she,
"will you be good enough to explain why you have appointed yourself my
special _cavalier servente?_ I don't understand it. But I am perfectly
certain, somehow or other, that you don't care the least little bit in the
world for _me_." This seems to support, by the way, the theory that no man
can act or tell lies to a woman without being found out. Hannasyde was
taken off his guard. His defence never was a strong one, because he was
always thinking of himself, and he blurted out, before he knew what he was
saying, this inexpedient answer, "No more I do."
The queerness of the situation and the reply, made Mrs. Landys-Haggert
laugh. Then it all came out; and at the end of Hannasyde's lucid
explanation Mrs. Haggert said, with the least little touch of scorn in her
voice, "So I'm to act as the lay-figure for you to hang the rags of your
tattered affections on, am I?"
Hannasyde didn't see what answer was required, and he devoted himself
generally and vaguely to the praise of Alice Chisane, which was
unsatisfactory. Now it is to be thoroughly made clear that Mrs. Haggert
had not the shadow of a ghost of an interest in Hannasyde. Only ... only
no woman likes being made love through instead of to--specially on behalf
of a musty divinity of four years' standing.
Hannasyde did not see that he had made any very particular exhibition of
himself. He was glad to find a sympathetic soul in the arid wastes of
When the season ended, Hannasyde went down to his own place and Mrs.
Haggert to hers, "It was like making love to a ghost," said Hannasyde to
himself, "and it doesn't matter; and now I'll get to my work." But he
found himself thinking steadily of the Haggert-Chisane ghost; and he could
not be certain whether it was Haggert or Chisane that made up the greater
part of the pretty phantom.
He got understanding a month later.
A peculiar point of this peculiar country is the way in which a heartless
Government transfers men from one end of the Empire to the other. You can
never be sure of getting rid of a friend or an enemy till he or she dies.
There was a case once--but that's another story.
Haggert's Department ordered him up from Dindigul to the Frontier at two
days' notice, and he went through, losing money at every step, from
Dindigul to his station. He dropped Mrs. Haggert at Lucknow, to stay with
some friends there, to take part in a big ball at the Chutter Munzil, and
to come on when he had made the new home a little comfortable. Lucknow was
Hannasyde's station, and Mrs. Haggert stayed a week there. Hannasyde went
to meet her. As the train came in, he discovered what he had been thinking
of for the past month. The unwisdom of his conduct also struck him. The
Lucknow week, with two dances, and an unlimited quantity of rides
together, clinched matters; and Hannasyde found himself pacing this circle
of thought:--He adored Alice Chisane, at least he _had_ adored her. _And_
he admired Mrs. Landys-Haggert because she was like Alice Chisane. _But_
Mrs. Landys-Haggert was not in the least like Alice Chisane, being a
thousand times more adorable. _Now_ Alice Chisane was "the bride of
another," and so was Mrs. Landys-Haggert, and a good and honest wife too.
_Therefore_ he, Hannasyde, was ... here he called himself several hard
names, and wished that he had been wise in the beginning.
Whether Mrs. Landys-Haggert saw what was going on in his mind, she alone
knows. He seemed to take an unqualified interest in everything connected
with herself, as distinguished from the Alice-Chisane likeness, and he
said one or two things which, if Alice Chisane had been still betrothed to
him, could scarcely have been excused, even on the grounds of the
likeness. But Mrs. Haggert turned the remarks aside, and spent a long time
in making Hannasyde see what a comfort and a pleasure she had been to him
because of her strange resemblance to his old love. Hannasyde groaned in
his saddle and said, "Yes, indeed," and busied himself with preparations
for her departure to the Frontier, feeling very small and miserable.
The last day of her stay at Lucknow came, and Hannasyde saw her off at the
Railway Station. She was very grateful for his kindness and the trouble he
had taken, and smiled pleasantly and sympathetically as one who knew the
Alice-Chisane reason of that kindness. And Hannasyde abused the coolies
with the luggage, and hustled the people on the platform, and prayed that
the roof might fall in and slay him.
As the train went out slowly, Mrs. Landys-Haggert leaned out of the window
to say good-bye--"On second thoughts _au revoir_, Mr. Hannasyde. I go Home
in the Spring, and perhaps I may meet you in Town."
Hannasyde shook hands, and said very earnestly and adoringly--"I hope to
Heaven I shall never see your face again!"
And Mrs. Haggert understood.
PRIVATE LEAROYD'S STORY
And he told a tale.--_Chronicles of Gautama Buddha._
Far from the haunts of Company Officers who insist upon kit-inspections,
far from keen-nosed Sergeants who sniff the pipe stuffed into the
bedding-roll, two miles from the tumult of the barracks, lies the Trap. It
is an old dry well, shadowed by a twisted _pipal_ tree and fenced with
high grass. Here, in the years gone by, did Private Ortheris establish his
depot and menagerie for such possessions, dead and living, as could not
safely be introduced to the barrack-room. Here were gathered Houdin
pullets, and fox-terriers of undoubted pedigree and more than doubtful
ownership, for Ortheris was an inveterate poacher and preeminent among a
regiment of neat-handed dog-stealers.
Never again will the long lazy evenings return wherein Ortheris, whistling
softly, moved surgeon-wise among the captives of his craft at the bottom
of the well; when Learoyd sat in the niche, giving sage counsel on the
management of "tykes," and Mulvaney, from the crook of the overhanging
_pipal_, waved his enormous boots in benediction above our heads,
delighting us with tales of Love and War, and strange experiences of
cities and men.
Ortheris--landed at last in the "little stuff bird-shop" for which your
soul longed; Learoyd--back again in the smoky, stone-ribbed North, amid
the clang of the Bradford looms; Mulvaney--grizzled, tender, and very wise
Ulysses, sweltering on the earthwork of a Central India line--judge if I
have forgotten old days in the Trap!
Orth'ris, as allus thinks he knaws more than other foaks, said she wasn't
a real laady, but nobbut a Hewrasian. I don't gainsay as her culler was a
bit doosky like. But she _was_ a laady. Why, she rode iv a carriage, an'
good 'osses, too, an' her 'air was that oiled as you could see your faice
in it, an' she wore di'mond rings an' a goold chain, an' silk an' satin
dresses as mun 'a' cost a deal, for it isn't a cheap shop as keeps enough
o' one pattern to fit a figure like hers. Her name was Mrs. DeSussa, an'
t' waay I coom to be acquainted wi' her was along of our Colonel's Laady's
I've seen a vast o' dogs, but Rip was t' prettiest picter of a cliver
fox-tarrier 'at iver I set eyes on. He could do owt you like but speeak,
an' t' Colonel's Laady set more store by him than if he hed been a
Christian. She hed bairns of her awn, but they was i' England, and Rip
seemed to get all t' coodlin' and pettin' as belonged to a bairn by good
But Rip were a bit on a rover, an' hed a habit o' breakin' out o' barricks
like, and trottin' round t' plaice as if he were t' Cantonment Magistrate
coom round inspectin'. The Colonel leathers him once or twice, but Rip
didn't care an' kept on gooin' his rounds, wi' his taail a-waggin' as if
he were flag-signallin' to t' world at large 'at he was "gettin' on
nicely, thank yo', and how's yo'sen?" An' then t' Colonel, as was noa sort
of a hand wi' a dog, tees him oop. A real clipper of a dog, an' it's noa
wonder yon laady, Mrs. DeSussa, should tek a fancy tiv him. Theer's one o'
t' Ten Commandments says yo maun't cuvvet your neebor's ox nor his
jackass, but it doesn't say nowt about his tarrier dogs, an' happen thot's
t' reason why Mrs. DeSussa cuvveted Rip, tho' she went to church reg'lar
along wi' her husband who was so mich darker 'at if he hedn't such a good
coaat tiv his back yo' might ha' called him a black man and nut tell a lee
nawther. They said he addled his brass i' jute, an' he'd a rare lot on it.
Well, you seen, when they teed Rip up, t' poor awd lad didn't enjoy very
good 'elth. So t' Colonel's Laady sends for me as 'ad a naame for bein'
knowledgeable about a dog, an' axes what's ailin' wi' him.
"Why," says I, "he's getten t' mopes, an' what he wants is his libbaty an'
coompany like t' rest on us; wal happen a rat or two 'ud liven him oop.
It's low, mum," says I, "is rats, but it's t' nature of a dog; an' soa's
cuttin' round an' meetin' another dog or two an' passin' t' time o' day,
an' hevvin' a bit of a turn-up wi' him like a Christian."
So she says _her_ dog maun't niver fight an' noa Christians iver fought.
"Then what's a soldier for?" says I; an' I explains to her t' contrairy
qualities of a dog, 'at, when yo' coom to think on't, is one o' t'
curusest things as is. For they larn to behave theirsens like gentlemen
born, fit for t' fost o' coompany--they tell me t' Widdy herself is fond
of a good dog and knaws one when she sees it as well as onny body: then on
t' other hand a-tewin' round after cats an' gettin' mixed oop i' all
manners o' blackguardly street-rows, an' killin' rats, an' fightin' like
T' Colonel's Laady says:--"Well, Learoyd, I doan't agree wi' you, but
you're right in a way o' speeakin', an' I should like yo' to tek Rip out
a-walkin' wi' you sometimes; but yo' maun't let him fight, nor chase cats,
nor do nowt 'orrid;" an' them was her very wods.
Soa Rip an' me gooes out a-walkin' o' evenin's, he bein' a dog as did
credit tiv a man, an' I catches a lot o' rats an' we hed a bit of a match
on in an awd dry swimmin'-bath at back o' t' cantonments, an' it was none
so long afore he was as bright as a button again. He hed a way o' flyin'
at them big yaller pariah dogs as if he was a harrow offan a bow, an'
though his weight were nowt, he tuk 'em so suddint-like they rolled over
like skittles in a halley, an' when they coot he stretched after 'em as if
he were rabbit-runnin'. Saame with cats when he cud get t' cat agaate o'
One evenin', him an' me was trespassin' ovver a compound wall after one of
them mongooses 'at he'd started, an' we was busy grubbin' round a
prickle-bush, an' when we looks up there was Mrs. DeSussa wi' a parasel
ovver her shoulder, a-watchin' us. "Oh my!" she sings out; "there's that
lovelee dog! Would he let me stroke him, Mister Soldier?"
"Ay, he would, mum," sez I, "for he's fond o' laady's coompany. Coom here,
Rip, an' speeak to this kind laady." An' Rip, seein' 'at t' mongoose hed
getten clean awaay, cooms up like t' gentleman he was, nivver a hauporth
shy or okkord.
"Oh, you beautiful--you prettee dog!" she says, clippin' an' chantin' her
speech in a way them sooart has o' their awn; "I would like a dog like
you. You are so verree lovelee--so awfullee prettee," an' all thot sort o'
talk, 'at a dog o' sense mebbe thinks nowt on, tho' he bides it by reason
o' his breedin'.
An' then I meks him joomp ovver my swagger-cane, an' shek hands, an' beg,
an' lie dead, an' a lot o' them tricks as laadies teeaches dogs, though I
doan't haud with it mysen, for it's makin' a fool o' a good dog to do such
An' at lung length it cooms out 'at she'd been thrawin' sheep's eyes, as
t' sayin' is, at Rip for many a day. Yo' see, her childer was grown up,
an' she'd nowt mich to do, an' were allus fond of a dog. Soa she axes me
if I'd tek somethin' to dhrink. An' we goes into t' drawn-room wheer her
'usband was a-settin'. They meks a gurt fuss ovver t' dog an' I has a
bottle o' aale, an' he gave me a handful o' cigars.
Soa I coomed away, but t' awd lass sings out--"Oh, Mister Soldier, please
coom again and bring that prettee dog."
I didn't let on to t' Colonel's Laady about Mrs. DeSussa, and Rip, he says
nowt nawther, an' I gooes again, an' ivry time there was a good dhrink an'
a handful o' good smooaks. An' I telled t' awd lass a heeap more about Rip
than I'd ever heeared; how he tuk t' lost prize at Lunnon dog-show and
cost thotty-three pounds fower shillin' from t' man as bred him; 'at his
own brother was t' propputty o' t' Prince o' Wailes, an' 'at he had a
pedigree as long as a Dook's. An' she lapped it all oop an' were niver
tired o' admirin' him. But when t' awd lass took to givin' me money an' I
seed 'at she were gettin' fair fond about t' dog, I began to suspicion
summat. Onny body may give a soldier t' price of a pint in a friendly way
an' theer's no 'arm done, but when it cooms to five rupees slipt into your
hand, sly like, why, it's what t' 'lectioneerin' fellows calls bribery an'
corruption. Specially when Mrs. DeSussa threwed hints how t' cold weather
would soon be ovver an' she was goin' to Munsooree Pahar an' we was goin'
to Rawalpindi, an' she would niver see Rip any more onless somebody she
knowed on would be kind tiv her.
Soa I tells Mulvaney an' Ortheris all t' taale thro', beginnin' to end.
"'Tis larceny that wicked ould laady manes," says t' Irishman, "'tis
felony she is sejuicin' ye into, my frind Learoyd, but I'll purtect your
innocince. I'll save ye from the wicked wiles av that wealthy ould woman,
an' I'll go wid ye this evenin' and spake to her the wurrds av truth an'
honesty. But Jock," says he, waggin' his heead, "'twas not like ye to kape
all that good dhrink an' thim fine cigars to yerself, while Orth'ris here
an' me have been prowlin' round wid throats as dry as lime-kilns, and
nothin' to smoke but Canteen plug. 'Twas a dhirty thrick to play on a
comrade, for why should you, Learoyd, be balancin' yourself on the butt av
a satin chair, as if Terence Mulvaney was not the aquil av anybody who
thrades in jute!"
"Let alone me," sticks in Orth'ris, "but that's like life. Them wot's
really fitted to decorate society get no show while a blunderin'
Yorkshireman like you"--
"Nay," says I, "it's none o' t' blunderin' Yorkshireman she wants; it's
Rip. He's t' gentleman this journey."
Soa t' next day, Mulvaney an' Rip an' me goes to Mrs. DeSussa's, an' t'
Irishman bein' a strainger she wor a bit shy at fost. But yo've heeard
Mulvaney talk, an' yo' may believe as he fairly bewitched t' awd lass wal
she let out 'at she wanted to tek Rip away wi' her to Munsooree Pahar.
Then Mulvaney changes his tune an' axes her solemn-like if she'd thought
o' t' consequences o' gettin' two poor but honest soldiers sent t'
Andamning Islands. Mrs. DeSussa began to cry, so Mulvaney turns round
oppen t' other tack and smooths her down, allowin' 'at Rip ud be a vast
better off in t' Hills than down i' Bengal, and 'twas a pity he shouldn't
go wheer he was so well beliked. And soa he went on, backin' an' fillin'
an' workin' up t'awd lass wal she fell as if her life warn't worth nowt if
she didn't hev t' dog.
Then all of a suddint he says:--"But ye _shall_ have him, marm, for I've a
feelin' heart, not like this could-blooded Yorkshireman; but 'twill cost
ye not a penny less than three hundher rupees."
"Don't yo' believe him, mum," says I; "t' Colonel's Laady wouldn't tek
five hundred for him."
"Who said she would?" says Mulvaney; "it's not buyin' him I mane, but for
the sake o' this kind, good laady, I'll do what I never dreamt to do in my
life. I'll stale him!"
"Don't say steal," says Mrs. DeSussa; "he shall have the happiest home.
Dogs often get lost, you know, and then they stray, an' he likes me and I
like him as I niver liked a dog yet, an' I _must_ hev him. If I got him at
t' last minute I could carry him off to Munsooree Pahar and nobody would
Now an' again Mulvaney looked acrost at me, an' though I could mak nowt o'
what he was after, I concluded to take his leead.
"Well, mum," I says, "I never thowt to coom down to dog-steealin', but if
my comrade sees how it could be done to oblige a laady like yo'-sen, I'm
nut t' man to hod back, tho' it's a bad business I'm thinkin', an' three
hundred rupees is a poor set-off again t' chance of them Damning Islands
as Mulvaney talks on."
"I'll mek it three fifty," says Mrs. DeSussa; "only let me hev t' dog!"
So we let her persuade us, an' she teks Rip's measure theer an' then, an'
sent to Hamilton's to order a silver collar again t' time when he was to
be her awn, which was to be t' day she set off for Munsooree Pahar.
"Sitha, Mulvaney," says I, when we was outside, "you're niver goin' to let
her hev Rip!"
"An' would ye disappoint a poor old woman?" says he; "she shall have _a_
"An' wheer's he to come through?" says I.
"Learoyd, my man," he sings out, "you're a pretty man av your inches an' a
good comrade, but your head is made av duff. Isn't our friend Orth'ris a
Taxidermist, an' a rale artist wid his nimble white fingers? An' what's a
Taxidermist but a man who can thrate shkins? Do ye mind the white dog that
belongs to the Canteen Sargint, bad cess to him---he that's lost half his
time an' snarlin' the rest? He shall be lost for _good_ now; an' do ye
mind that he's the very spit in shape an' size av the Colonel's, barrin'
that his tail is an inch too long, an' he has none av the color that
divarsifies the rale Rip, an' his timper is that av his masther an' worse.
But fwhat is an inch on a dog's tail? An' fwhat to a professional like
Orth'ris is a few ringstraked shpots av black, brown, an' white? Nothin'
at all, at all."
Then we meets Orth'ris, an' that little man, bein' sharp as a needle, seed
his way through t' business in a minute. An' he went to work a-practicin'
'air-dyes the very next day, beginnin' on some white rabbits he had, an'
then he drored all Rip's markin's on t' back of a white Commissariat
bullock, so as to get his 'and in an' be sure of his colors; shadin' off
brown into black as nateral as life. If Rip _hed_ a fault it was too mich
markin', but it was straingely reg'lar an' Orth'ris settled himself to
make a fost-rate job on it when he got haud o' t' Canteen Sargint's dog.
Theer niver was sich a dog as thot for bad temper, an' it did nut get no
better when his tail hed to be fettled an inch an' a half shorter. But
they may talk o' theer Royal Academies as they like. _I_ niver seed a bit
o' animal paintin' to beat t' copy as Orth'ris made of Rip's marks, wal t'
picter itself was snarlin' all t' time an' tryin' to get at Rip standin'
theer to be copied as good as goold.
Orth'ris allus hed as mich conceit on himsen as would lift a balloon, an'
he wor so pleeased wi' his sham Rip he wor for tekking him to Mrs. DeSussa
before she went away. But Mulvaney an' me stopped thot, knowin' Orth'ris's
work, though niver so cliver, was nobbut skin-deep.
An' at last Mrs. DeSussa fixed t' day for startin' to Munsooree Pahar. We
was to tek Rip to t' stayshun i' a basket an' hand him ovver just when
they was ready to start, an' then she'd give us t' brass--as was agreed
An' my wod! It were high time she were off, for them 'air-dyes upon t'
cur's back took a vast of paintin' to keep t' reet culler, tho' Orth'ris
spent a matter o' seven rupees six annas i' t' best drooggist shops i'
An' t' Canteen Sargint was lookin' for 'is dog everywheer; an', wi' bein'
tied up, t' beast's timper got waur nor ever.
It wor i' t' evenin' when t' train started thro' Howrah, an' we 'elped
Mrs. DeSussa wi' about sixty boxes, an' then we gave her t' basket.
Orth'ris, for pride av his work, axed us to let him coom along wi' us, an'
he couldn't help liftin' t' lid an' showin' t' cur as he lay coiled oop.
"Oh!" says t' awd lass; "the beautee! How sweet he looks!" An' just then
t' beauty snarled an' showed his teeth, so Mulvaney shuts down t' lid and
says: "Ye'll be careful, marm, whin ye tek him out. He's disaccustomed to
traveling by t' railway, an' he'll be sure to want his rale mistress an'
his friend Learoyd, so ye'll make allowance for his feelings at fost."
She would do all thot an' more for the dear, good Rip, an' she would nut
oppen t' basket till they were miles away, for fear anybody should
recognize him, an' we were real good and kind soldier-men, we were, an'
she honds me a bundle o' notes, an' then cooms up a few of her relations
an' friends to say good-bye--not more than seventy-five there wasn't--an'
we cuts away.
What coom to t' three hundred and fifty rupees? Thot's what I can
scarcelins tell yo', but we melted it--we melted it. It was share an'
share alike, for Mulvaney said: "If Learoyd got hold of Mrs. DeSussa
first, sure, 'twas I that remimbered the Sargint's dog just in the nick av
time, an' Orth'ris was the artist av janius that made a work av art out av
that ugly piece av ill-nature. Yet, by way av a thank-offerin' that I was
not led into felony by that wicked ould woman, I'll send a thrifle to
Father Victor for the poor people he's always beggin' for."
But me an' Orth'ris, he bein' Cockney, an' I bein' pretty far north, did
nut see it i' t' saame way. We'd getten t' brass, an' we meaned to keep
it. An' soa we did--for a short time.
Noa, noa, we niver heeard a wod more o' t' awd lass. Our rig'mint went to
Pindi, an' t' Canteen Sargint he got himself another tyke insteead o' t'
one 'at got lost so reg'lar, an' was lost for good at last.
WRESSLEY OF THE FOREIGN OFFICE
I closed and drew for my Love's sake,
That now is false to me,
And I slew the Riever of Tarrant Moss,
And set Dumeny free.
And ever they give me praise and gold,
And ever I moan my loss;
For I struck the blow for my false Love's sake,
And not for the men of the Moss!
One of the many curses of our life in India is the want of atmosphere in
the painter's sense. There are no half-tints worth noticing. Men stand out
all crude and raw, with nothing to tone them down, and nothing to scale
them against. They do their work, and grow to think that there is nothing
but their work, and nothing like their work, and that they are the real
pivots on which the Administration turns. Here is an instance of this
feeling. A half-caste clerk was ruling forms in a Pay Office. He said to
me, "Do you know what would happen if I added or took away one single line
on this sheet?" Then, with the air of a conspirator, "It would disorganize
the whole of the Treasury payments throughout the whole of the Presidency
Circle! Think of that!"
If men had not this delusion as to the ultra-importance of their own
particular employments, I suppose that they would sit down and kill
themselves. But their weakness is wearisome, particularly when the
listener knows that he himself commits exactly the same sin.
Even the Secretariat believes that it does good when it asks an
over-driven Executive Officer to take a census of wheat-weevils through a
district of five thousand square miles.
There was a man once in the Foreign Office--a man who had grown
middle-aged in the Department, and was commonly said, by irreverent
juniors, to be able to repeat Aitchison's _Treaties and Sunnuds_ backward
in his sleep. What he did with his stored knowledge only the Secretary
knew; and he, naturally, would not publish the news abroad. This man's
name was Wressley, and it was the Shibboleth, in those days, to
say--"Wressley knows more about the Central Indian States than any living
man." If you did not say this, you were considered one of mean
Nowadays, the man who says that he knows the ravel of the inter-tribal
complications across the Border is more of use; but, in Wressley's time,
much attention was paid to the Central Indian States. They were called
"foci" and "factors," and all manner of imposing names.
And here the curse of Anglo-Indian life fell heavily. When Wressley lifted
up his voice, and spoke about such-and-such a succession to such-and-such
a throne, the Foreign Office were silent, and Heads of Departments
repeated the last two or three words of Wressley's sentences, and tacked
"yes, yes," on to them, and knew that they were assisting the Empire to
grapple with serious political contingencies. In most big undertakings,
one or two men do the work while the rest sit near and talk till the ripe
decorations begin to fall.
Wressley was the working-member of the Foreign Office firm, and, to keep
him up to his duties when he showed signs of flagging, he was made much of
by his superiors and told what a fine fellow he was. He did not require
coaxing, because he was of tough build, but what he received confirmed him
in the belief that there was no one quite so absolutely and imperatively
necessary to the stability of India as Wressley of the Foreign Office.
There might be other good men, but the known, honored and trusted man
among men was Wressley of the Foreign Office. We had a Viceroy in those
days who knew exactly when to "gentle" a fractious big man, and to
hearten-up a collar-galled little one, and so keep all his team level. He
conveyed to Wressley the impression which I have just set down; and even
tough men are apt to be disorganized by a Viceroy's praise. There was a
case once--but that is another story.
All India knew Wressley's name and office--it was in Thacker and Spink's
Directory--but who he was personally, or what he did, or what his special
merits were, not fifty men knew or cared. His work filled all his time,
and he found no leisure to cultivate acquaintances beyond those of dead
Rajput chiefs with _Ahir_ blots in their scutcheons. Wressley would have
made a very good Clerk in the Herald's College had he not been a Bengal
Upon a day, between office and office, great trouble came to
Wressley--overwhelmed him, knocked him down, and left him gasping as
though he had been a little schoolboy. Without reason, against prudence,
and at a moment's notice, he fell in love with a frivolous, golden-haired
girl who used to tear about Simla Mall on a high, rough waler, with a blue
velvet jockey-cap crammed over her eyes. Her name was Venner--Tillie
Venner--and she was delightful. She took Wressley's heart at a
hand-gallop, and Wressley found that it was not good for man to live
alone; even with half the Foreign Office Records in his presses.
Then Simla laughed, for Wressley in love was slightly ridiculous. He did
his best to interest the girl in himself--that is to say, his work--and
she, after the manner of women, did her best to appear interested in what,
behind his back, she called "Mr. Wressley's Wajahs"; for she lisped very
prettily. She did not understand one little thing about them, but she
acted as if she did. Men have married on that sort of error before now.
Providence, however, had care of Wressley, He was immensely struck with
Miss Venner's intelligence. He would have been more impressed had he heard
her private and confidential accounts of his calls. He held peculiar
notions as to the wooing of girls. He said that the best work of a man's
career should be laid reverently at their feet. Ruskin writes something
like this somewhere, I think; but in ordinary life a few kisses are better
and save time.
About a month after he had lost his heart to Miss Venner, and had been
doing his work vilely in consequence, the first idea of his _Native Rule
in Central India_ struck Wressley and filled him with joy. It was, as he
sketched it, a great thing--the work of his life--a really comprehensive
survey of a most fascinating subject--to be written with all the special
and laboriously acquired knowledge of Wressley of the Foreign Office--a
gift fit for an Empress.
He told Miss Venner that he was going to take leave, and hoped, on his
return, to bring her a present worthy of her acceptance. Would she wait?
Certainly she would. Wressley drew seventeen hundred rupees a month. She
would wait a year for that. Her Mamma would help her to wait.
So Wressley took one year's leave and all the available documents, about a
truck-load, that he could lay hands on, and went down to Central India
with his notion hot in his head. He began his book in the land he was
writing of. Too much official correspondence had made him a frigid
workman, and he must have guessed that he needed the white light of local
color on his palette. This is a dangerous paint for amateurs to play with.
Heavens, how that man worked! He caught his Rajahs, analyzed his Rajahs,
and traced them up into the mists of Time and beyond, with their queens
and their concubines. He dated and cross-dated, pedigreed and
triple-pedigreed, compared, noted, connoted, wove, strung, sorted,
selected, inferred, calendared and counter-calendared for ten hours a day.
And, because this sudden and new light of Love was upon him, he turned
those dry bones of history and dirty records of misdeeds into things to
weep or to laugh over as he pleased. His heart and soul were at the end of
his pen, and they got into the ink. He was dowered with sympathy, insight,
humor, and style for two hundred and thirty days and nights; and his book
was a Book. He had his vast special knowledge with him, so to speak; but
the spirit, the woven-in human Touch, the poetry and the power of the
output, were beyond all special knowledge. But I doubt whether he knew the
gift that was in him then, and thus he may have lost some happiness. He
was toiling for Tillie Venner, not for himself. Men often do their best
work blind, for some one else's sake.
Also, though this has nothing to do with the story, in India where every
one knows every one else, you can watch men being driven, by the women who
govern them, out of the rank-and-file and sent to take up points alone. A
good man, once started, goes forward; but an average man, so soon as the
woman loses interest in his success as a tribute to her power, comes back
to the battalion and is no more heard of.
Wressley bore the first copy of his book to Simla, and, blushing and
stammering, presented it to Miss Venner. She read a little of it. I give
her review _verbatim_--"Oh your book? It's all about those howwid Wajahs.
I didn't understand it."
Wressley of the Foreign Office was broken, smashed,--I am not
exaggerating--by this one frivolous little girl. All that he could say
feebly was--"But--but it's my _magnum opus!_ The work of my life." Miss
Venner did not know what _magnum opus_ meant; but she knew that Captain
Kerrington had won three races at the last Gymkhana. Wressley didn't press
her to wait for him any longer. He had sense enough for that.
Then came the reaction after the year's strain, and Wressley went back to
the Foreign Office and his "Wajahs," a compiling, gazetteering,
report-writing hack, who would have been dear at three hundred rupees a
month. He abided by Miss Venner's review. Which proves that the
inspiration in the book was purely temporary and unconnected with himself.
Nevertheless, he had no right to sink, in a hill-tarn, five packing-cases,
brought up at enormous expense from Bombay, of the best book of Indian
history ever written.
When he sold off before retiring, some years later, I was turning over his
shelves, and came across the only existing copy of _Native Rule in Central
India_--the copy that Miss Venner could not understand. I read it, sitting
on his mule-trunks, as long as the light lasted, and offered him his own
price for it. He looked over my shoulder for a few pages and said to
"Now, how in the world did I come to write such damned good stuff as
Then to me--
"Take it and keep it. Write one of your penny-farthing yarns about its
birth. Perhaps--perhaps--the whole business may have been ordained to that
Which, knowing what Wressley of the Foreign Office was once, struck me as
about the bitterest thing that I had ever heard a man say of his own work.
THE SOLID MULDOON
Did ye see John Malone, wid his shinin', brand-new hat?
Did ye see how he walked like a grand aristocrat?
There was flags an' banners wavin' high,
an' dhress and shtyle were shown,
But the best av all the company was Misther John Malone.
There had been a royal dog-fight in the ravine at the back of the
rifle-butts, between Learoyd's _Jock_ and Ortheris's _Blue Rot_--both
mongrel Rampur hounds, chiefly ribs and teeth. It lasted for twenty happy,
howling minutes, and then Blue Rot collapsed and Ortheris paid Learoyd
three rupees, and we were all very thirsty. A dog-fight is a most heating
entertainment, quite apart from the shouting, because Rampurs fight over a
couple of acres of ground. Later, when the sound of belt-badges clicking
against the necks of beer-bottles had died away, conversation drifted from
dog to man-fights of all kinds. Humans resemble red-deer in some respects.
Any talk of fighting seems to wake up a sort of imp in their breasts, and
they bell one to the other, exactly like challenging bucks. This is
noticeable even in men who consider themselves superior to Privates of the
Line: it shows the Refining Influence of Civilization and the March of
Tale provoked tale, and each tale more beer. Even dreamy Learoyd's eyes
began to brighten, and he unburdened himself of a long history in which a
trip to Malham Cove, a girl at Pateley Brigg, a ganger, himself and a pair
of clogs were mixed in drawling tangle.
"An' so Ah coot's yead oppen from t' chin to t' hair, an' he was abed for
t' matter o' a month," concluded Learoyd, pensively.
Mulvaney came out of a revery--he was lying down--and flourished his heels
in the air. "You're a man, Learoyd," said he, critically, "but you've only
fought wid men, an' that's an ivry-day expayrience; but I've stud up to a
ghost, an' that was _not_ an ivry-day expayrience."
"No?" said Ortheris, throwing a cork at him. "You git up an' address the
'ouse--you an' yer expayriences. Is it a bigger one nor usual?"
"Twas the livin' trut'!" answered Mulvaney, stretching out a huge arm and
catching Ortheris by the collar. "Now where are ye, me son? Will ye take
the wurrud av the Lorrd out av my mouth another time?" He shook him to
emphasize the question.
"No, somethin' else, though," said Ortheris, making a dash at Mulvaney's
pipe, capturing it and holding it at arm's length; "I'll chuck it acrost
the ditch if you don't let me go!"
"You maraudin' hathen! Tis the only cutty I iver loved. Handle her tinder
or I'll chuck _you_ acrost the nullah. If that poipe was bruk--Ah! Give
her back to me, sorr!"
Ortheris had passed the treasure to my hand. It was an absolutely perfect
clay, as shiny as the black ball at Pool. I took it reverently, but I was
"Will you tell us about the ghost-fight if I do?" I said.
"Is ut the shtory that's troublin' you? Av course I will. I mint to all
along. I was only gettin' at ut my own way, as Popp Doggle said whin they
found him thrying to ram a cartridge down the muzzle. Orth'ris, fall
He released the little Londoner, took back his pipe, filled it, and his
eyes twinkled. He has the most eloquent eyes of any one that I know.
"Did I iver tell you," he began, "that I was wanst the divil of a man?"
"You did," said Learoyd, with a childish gravity that made Ortheris yell
with laughter, for Mulvaney was always impressing upon us his great merits
in the old days.
"Did I iver tell you," Mulvaney continued, calmly, "that I was wanst more
av a divil than I am now?"
"Mer--ria! You don't mean it?" said Ortheris.
"Whin I was Corp'ril--I was rejuced aftherward--but, as I say, _whin_ I
was Corp'ril, I was a divil of a man."
He was silent for nearly a minute, while his mind rummaged among old
memories and his eye glowed. He bit upon the pipe-stem and charged into
"Eyah! They was great times, I'm ould now; me hide's wore off in patches;
sinthrygo has disconceited me, an' I'm a married man tu. But I've had my
day--I've had my day, an' nothin' can take away the taste av that! Oh my
time past, whin I put me fut through ivry livin' wan av the Tin
Commandmints between Revelly and Lights Out, blew the froth off a pewter,
wiped me moustache wid the back av me hand, an' slept on ut all as quiet
as a little child! But ut's over--ut's over, an' 'twill niver come back to
me; not though I prayed for a week av Sundays. Was there _any_ wan in the
Ould Rig'mint to touch Corp'ril Terence Mulvaney whin that same was turned
out for sedukshin? I niver met him. Ivry woman that was not a witch was
worth the runnin' afther in those days, an' ivry man was my dearest frind
or--I had stripped to him an' we knew which was the betther av the tu.
"Whin I was Corp'ril I wud not ha' changed wid the Colonel--no, nor yet
the Commandher-in-Chief. I wud be a Sargint. There was nothin' I wud not
be! Mother av Hivin, look at me! Fwhat am I _now?_
"We was quartered in a big cantonmint--'tis no manner av use namin' names,
for ut might give the barricks disrepitation--an' I was the Imperor av the
Earth to my own mind, an' wan or tu women thought the same. Small blame to
thim. Afther we had lain there a year, Bragin, the Color Sargint av E
Comp'ny, wint an' took a wife that was lady's maid to some big lady in the
Station. She's dead now is Annie Bragin--died in child-bed at Kirpa Tal,
or ut may ha' been Almorah--seven--nine years gone, an' Bragin he married
agin. But she was a pretty woman whin Bragin inthrojuced her to cantonmint
society. She had eyes like the brown av a buttherfly's wing whin the sun
catches ut, an' a waist no thicker than my arm, an' a little sof button av
a mouth I would ha' gone through all Asia bristlin' wid bay'nits to get
the kiss av. An' her hair was as long as the tail av the Colonel's
charger--forgive me mentionin' that blunderin' baste in the same mouthful
with Annie Bragin--but 'twas all shpun gold, an' time was when ut was more
than di'monds to me. There was niver pretty woman yet, an' I've had thruck
wid a few, cud open the door to Annie Bragin.
"'Twas in the Cath'lic Chapel I saw her first, me oi roiling round as
usual to see fwhat was to be seen, 'You're too good for Bragin, my love,'
thinks I to mesilf, 'but that's a mistake I can put straight, or my name
is not Terence Mulvaney.'
"Now take my wurrd for ut, you Orth'ris there an' Learoyd, an' kape out av
the Married Quarters--as I did not. No good iver comes av ut, an' there's
always the chance av your bein' found wid your face in the dirt, a long
picket in the back av your head, an' your hands playing the fifes on the
tread av another man's doorstep.
"Twas so we found O'Hara, he that Rafferty killed six years gone, when he
wint to his death wid his hair oiled, whistlin' _Larry O'Rourke_ betune
his teeth. Kape out av the Married Quarters, I say, as I did not, 'Tis
onwholesim, 'tis dangerous, an' 'tis ivrything else that's bad, but--O my
sowl, 'tis swate while ut lasts!
"I was always hangin' about there whin I was off duty an' Bragin wasn't,
but niver a sweet word beyon' ordinar' did I get from Annie Bragin. ''Tis
the pervarsity av the sect,' sez I to mesilf, an' gave my cap another cock
on my head an' straightened my back--'twas the back av a Dhrum Major in
those days--an' wint off as tho' I did not care, wid all the women in the
Married Quarters laughin'. I was pershuaded--most bhoys _are_, I'm
thinkin'--that no women born av woman cud stand against me av I hild up my
little finger. I had reason fer thinkin' that way--till I met Annie
"Time an' agin whin I was blandandherin' in the dusk a man wud go past me
as quiet as a cat. 'That's quare,' thinks I, 'for I am, or I should be,
the only man in these parts. Now what divilment can Annie be up to?' Thin
I called myself a blayguard for thinkin' such things; but I thought thim
all the same. An' that, mark you, is the way av a man.
"Wan evenin' I said:--'Mrs. Bragin, manin' no disrespect to you, who is
that Corp'ril man'--I had seen the stripes though I cud niver get sight av
his face--'_who_ is that Corp'ril man that comes in always whin I'm goin'
"'Mother av God!' sez she, turnin' as white as my belt; 'have _you_ seen
"'Seen him!' sez I; 'av coorse I have. Did ye want me not to see him,
for'--we were standin' talkin' in the dhark, outside the veranda av
Bragin's quarters--'you'd betther tell me to shut me eyes. Onless I'm
mistaken, he's come now.'
"An', sure enough, the Corp'ril man was walkin' to us, hangin' his head
down as though he was ashamed av himsilf.
"'Good-night, Mrs. Bragin,' sez I, very cool; ''tis not for me to
interfere wid your _a-moors;_ but you might manage some things wid more
dacincy. I'm off to canteen', I sez.
"I turned on my heel an' wint away, swearin' I wud give that man a
dhressin' that wud shtop him messin' about the Married Quarters for a
month an' a week. I had not tuk ten paces before Annie Bragin was hangin'
on to my arm, an' I cud feel that she was shakin' all over.
"'Stay wid me, Mister Mulvaney,' sez she; 'you're flesh an' blood, at the
least--are ye not?'
"'I'm _all_ that,' sez I, an' my anger wint away in a flash. 'Will I want
to be asked twice, Annie?'
"Wid that I slipped my arm round her waist, for, begad, I fancied she had
surrindered at discretion, an' the honors av war were mine,
"'Fwhat nonsinse is this?' sez she, dhrawin' hersilf up on the tips av her
dear little toes. 'Wid the mother's milk not dhry on your impident mouth?
Let go!' she sez,
"Did ye not say just now that I was flesh and blood?' sez I. 'I have not
changed since,' I sez; an' I kep' my arm where ut was.
"'Your arms to yoursilf!' sez she, an' her eyes sparkild.
"'Sure, 'tis only human nature,' sez I, an' I kep' my arm where ut was.
"'Nature or no nature,' sez she, 'you take your arm away or I'll tell
Bragin, an' he'll alter the nature av your head. Fwhat d'you take me for?'
"'A woman,' sez I; 'the prettiest in barricks.'
"'A _wife_,' sez she; 'the straightest in cantonmints!'
"Wid that I dropped my arm, fell back tu paces, an' saluted, for I saw
that she mint fwhat she said."
"Then you know something that some men would give a good deal to be
certain of. How could you tell?" I demanded in the interests of Science.
"Watch the hand," said Mulvaney; "av she shut her hand tight, thumb down
over the knuckle, take up your hat an' go. You'll only make a fool av
yoursilf av you shtay. But av the hand lies opin on the lap, or av you see
her thryin' to shut ut, an' she can't,--go on! She's not past reasonin'
"Well, as I was sayin', I fell back, saluted, an' was goin' away.
"'Shtay wid me,' she sez. 'Look! He's comin' again.'
"She pointed to the veranda, an' by the Hoight av Impart'nince, the
Corp'ril man was comin' out av Bragin's quarters.
"'He's done that these five evenin's past,' sez Annie Bragin. 'Oh, fwhat
will I do!'
"'He'll not do ut again,' sez I, for I was fightin' mad.
"Kape way from a man that has been a thrifle crossed in love till the
fever's died down. He rages like a brute beast.
"I wint up to the man in the veranda, manin', as sure as I sit, to knock
the life out av him. He slipped into the open. 'Fwhat are you doin'
philanderin' about here, ye scum av the gutter?' sez I polite, to give him
his warnin', for I wanted him ready.
"He niver lifted his head, but sez, all mournful an' melancolius, as if he
thought I wud be sorry for him: 'I can't find her,' sez he.
"'My troth,' sez I, 'you've lived too long--you an' your seekin's an'
findin's in a dacint married woman's quarters! Hould up your head, ye
frozen thief av Genesis,' sez I, 'an' you'll find all you want an' more!'
"But he niver hild up, an' I let go from the shoulder to where the hair is
short over the eyebrows.
"'That'll do your business," sez I, but it nearly did mine instid. I put
my bodyweight behind the blow, but I hit nothing at all, an' near put my
shoulther out. The Corp'ril man was not there, an' Annie Bragin, who had
been watchin' from the veranda, throws up her heels, an' carries on like a
cock whin his neck's wrung by the dhrummer-bhoy. I wint back to her, for a
livin' woman, an' a woman like Annie Bragin, is more than a p'rade-groun'
full av ghosts. I'd never seen a woman faint before, an' I stud like a
shtuck calf, askin' her whether she was dead, an' prayin' her for the love
av me, an' the love av her husband, an' the love av the Virgin, to opin
her blessed eyes again, an' callin' mesilf all the names undher the canopy
av Hivin for plaguin' her wid my miserable _a-moors_ whin I ought to ha'
stud betune her an' this Corp'ril man that had lost the number av his
"I misremimber fwhat nonsinse I said, but I was not so far gone that I cud
not hear a fut on the dirt outside. 'Twas Bragin comin' in, an' by the
same token Annie was comin' to. I jumped to the far end av the veranda an'
looked as if butter wudn't melt in my mouth. But Mrs. Quinn, the
Quarter-Master's wife that was, had tould Bragin about my hangin' round
"'I'm not pleased wid you, Mulvaney,' sez Bragin, unbucklin' his sword,
for he had been on duty.
"'That's bad hearin',' I sez, an' I knew that the pickets were dhriven in.
'What for, Sargint?' sez I.
"'Come outside,' sez he, 'an' I'll show you why.'
"'I'm willin',' I sez; 'but my stripes are none so ould that I can afford
to lose thim. Tell me now, _who_ do I go out wid?' sez I.
"He was a quick man an' a just, an' saw fwhat I wud be afther. 'Wid Mrs.
Bragin's husband,' sez he. He might ha' known by me askin' that favor that
I had done him no wrong.
"We wint to the back av the arsenal an' I stripped to him, an' for ten
minutes 'twas all I cud do to prevent him killin' himself against my
fistes. He was mad as a dumb dog--just frothing wid rage; but he had no
chanst wid me in reach, or learnin', or anything else.
"'Will ye hear reason?' sez I, whin his first wind was run out.
"'Not whoile I can see,' sez he. Wid that I gave him both, one after the
other, smash through the low gyard that he'd been taught whin he was a
boy, an' the eyebrow shut down on the cheek-bone like the wing av a sick
"'Will you hear reason now, ye brave man?' sez I.
"'Not whoile I can speak,' sez he, staggerin' up blind as a stump. I was
loath to do ut, but I wint round an' swung into the jaw side-on an'
shifted ut a half pace to the lef'.
"'Will ye hear reason now?' sez I; 'I can't keep my timper much longer, an
'tis like I will hurt you.'
"'Not whoile I can stand,' he mumbles out av one corner av his mouth. So I
closed an' threw him--blind, dumb, an' sick, an' jammed the jaw straight.
"'You're an ould fool, _Mister_ Bragin,' sez I.
"'You're a young thief,' sez he, 'an' you've bruk my heart, you an' Annie
"Thin he began cryin' like a child as he lay. I was sorry as I had niver
been before. 'Tis an awful thing to see a strong man cry.
"'I'll swear on the Cross!' sez I.
"'I care for none av your oaths,' sez he.
"'Come back to your quarters,' sez I, 'an' if you don't believe the
livin', begad, you shall listen to the dead,' I sez.
"I hoisted him an' tuk him back to his quarters. 'Mrs. Bragin,' sez I,
'here's a man that you can cure quicker than me.'
"'You've shamed me before my wife,' he whimpers.
"'Have I so?' sez I. 'By the look on Mrs. Bragin's face I think I'm for a
dhressin'-down worse than I gave you.'
"An' I was! Annie Bragin was woild wid indignation. There was not a name
that a dacint woman cud use that was not given my way. I've had my Colonel
walk roun' me like a cooper roun' a cask for fifteen minutes in Ord'ly
Room, bekaze I wint into the Corner Shop an unstrapped lewnatic; but all
that I iver tuk from his rasp av a tongue was ginger-pop to fwhat Annie
tould me, An' that, mark you, is the way av a woman,
"Whin ut was done for want av breath, an' Annie was bendin' over her
husband, I sez; ''Tis all thrue, an' I'm a blayguard an' you're an honest
woman; but will you tell him of wan service that I did you?'
"As I finished speakin' the Corp'ril man came up to the veranda, an' Annie
Bragin shquealed. The moon was up, an' we cud see his face.
"'I can't find her,' sez the Corp'ril man, an' wint out like the puff av a
"'Saints stand betune us an' evil!' sez Bragin, crossin' himself; 'that's
Flahy av the Tyrone.'
"'Who was he?' I sez, 'for he has given me a dale av fightin' this day.'
"Bragin tould us that Flahy was a Corp'ril who lost his wife av cholera in
those quarters three years gone, an' wint mad, an' _walked_ afther they
buried him, huntin' for her.
"'Well,' sez I to Bragin, 'he's been hookin' out av Purgathory to kape
company wid Mrs. Bragin ivry evenin' for the last fortnight. You may tell
Mrs. Quinn, wid my love, for I know that she's been talkin' to you, an'
you've been listenin', that she ought to ondherstand the differ 'twixt a
man an' a ghost. She's had three husbands,' sez I, 'an' _you_'ve, got a
wife too good for you. Instid av which you lave her to be boddered by
ghosts an'--an' all manner av evil spirruts. I'll niver go talkin' in the
way av politeness to a man's wife again. Good-night to you both,' sez I;
an' wid that I wint away, havin' fought wid woman, man and Divil all in
the heart av an hour. By the same token I gave Father Victor wan rupee to
say a mass for Flahy's soul, me havin' discommoded him by shticking my
fist into his systim."
"Your ideas of politeness seem rather large, Mulvaney," I said.
"That's as you look at ut," said Mulvaney, calmly; "Annie Bragin niver
cared for me. For all that, I did not want to leave anything behin' me
that Bragin could take hould av to be angry wid her about--whin an honust
wurrd cud ha' cleared all up. There's nothing like opin-speakin'.
Orth'ris, ye scutt, let me put me oi to that bottle, for my throat's as
dhry as whin I thought I wud get a kiss from Annie Bragin. An' that's
fourteen years gone! Eyah! Cork's own city an' the blue sky above ut--an'
the times that was--the times that was!"
THE THREE MUSKETEERS
An' when the war began, we chased the bold Afghan,
An' we made the bloomin' Ghazi for to flee, boys O!
An' we marched into Kabul, an' we tuk the Balar 'Issar
An' we taught 'em to respec' the British Soldier.
_Barrack Room Ballad._
Mulvaney, Ortheris and Learoyd are Privates in B Company of a Line
Regiment, and personal friends of mine. Collectively I think, but am not
certain, they are the worst men in the regiment so far as genial
They told me this story, in the Umballa Refreshment Room while we were
waiting for an up-train. I supplied the beer. The tale was cheap at a
gallon and a half.
All men know Lord Benira Trig. He Is a Duke, or an Earl, or something
unofficial; also a Peer; also a Globe-trotter. On all three counts, as
Ortheris says, "'e didn't deserve no consideration." He was out in India
for three months collecting materials for a book on "Our Eastern
Impedimenta," and quartering himself upon everybody, like a Cossack in
His particular vice--because he was a Radical, men said--was having
garrisons turned out for his inspection. He would then dine with the
Officer Commanding, and insult him, across the Mess table, about the
appearance of the troops. That was Benira's way.
He turned out troops once too often. He came to Helanthami Cantonment on a
Tuesday. He wished to go shopping in the bazars on Wednesday, and he
"desired" the troops to be turned out on a Thursday. _On--a--Thursday._
The Officer Commanding could not well refuse; for Benira was a Lord. There
was an indignation-meeting of subalterns in the Mess Room, to call the
Colonel pet names.