Part 18 out of 18
"That is true," said I. "Stay within the door. I go to speak to the king." The
population of the state were ranged on the hillside. I went forth and spoke.
"O king," said I, "touching this man, there be two courses open to thy wisdom.
Thou canst either hang him from a tree--him and his brood--till there remains
no hair that is red within thy land."
"Nay," said the king. "Why should I hurt the little children?"
They had poured out of the hut and were making plump obeisances to everybody.
Namgay Doola waited at the door with his gun across his arm.
"Or thou canst, discarding their impiety of the cow-maiming, raise him to honor
in thy army. He comes of a race that will not pay revenue. A red flame is in
his blood which comes out at the top of his head in that glowing hair. Make him
chief of thy army. Give him honor as may befall and full allowance of work, but
look to it, oh, king, that neither he nor his hold a foot of earth from thee
henceforward. Feed him with words and favor, and also liquor from certain
bottles that thou knowest of, and he will be a bulwark of defense. But deny him
even a tuftlet of grass for his own. This is the nature that God has given him.
Moreover, he has brethren"--
The state groaned unanimously.
"But if his brethren come they will surely fight with each other till they die;
or else the one will always give information concerning the other. Shall he be
of thy army, oh, king? Choose"
The king bowed his head, and I said:
"Come forth, Namgay Doola, and command the king's army. Thy name shall no more
be Namgay in the mouths of men, but Patsay Doola, for, as thou hast truly said,
Then Namgay Doola, never-christened Patsay Doola, son of Timlay Doola-which is
Tim Doolan--clasped the king's feet, cuffed the standing army, and hurried in
an agony of contrition from temple to temple making offerings for the sin of
And the king was so pleased with my perspicacity that he offered to sell me a
village for 20 pounds sterling. But I buy no village in the Himalayas so long
as one red head flares between the tail of the heaven-climbing glacier and the
dark birch forest.
I know that breed.
THE RECRUDESCENCE OF IMRAY
Imray had achieved the impossible. Without warning, for no conceivable motive,
in his youth and at the threshold of his career he had chosen to disappear from
the world--which is to say, the little Indian station where he lived. Upon a
day he was alive, well, happy, and in great evidence at his club, among the
billiard-tables. Upon a morning he was not, and no manner of search could make
sure where he might be. He had stepped out of his place; he had not appeared at
his office at the proper time, and his dog-cart was not upon the public roads.
For these reasons and because he was hampering in a microscopical degree the
administration of the Indian Empire, the Indian Empire paused for one
microscopical moment to make inquiry into the fate of Imray. Ponds were
dragged, wells were plumbed, telegrams were dispatched down the lines of
railways and to the nearest seaport town--1,200 miles away--but Imray was not
at the end of the drag-ropes nor the telegrams. He was gone, and his place knew
him no more. Then the work of the great Indian Empire swept forward, because it
could not be delayed, and Imray, from being a man, became a mystery--such a
thing as men talk over at their tables in the club for a month and then forget
utterly. His guns, horses, and carts were sold to the highest bidder. His
superior officer wrote an absurd letter to his mother, saying that Imray had
unaccountably disappeared and his bungalow stood empty on the road.
After three or four months of the scorching hot weather had gone by, my friend
Strickland, of the police force, saw fit to rent the bungalow from the native
landlord. This was before he was engaged to Miss Youghal--an affair which has
been described in another place--and while he was pursuing his investigations
into native life. His own life was sufficiently peculiar, and men complained of
his manners and customs. There was always food in his house, but there were no
regular times for meals. He ate, standing up and walking about, whatever he
might find on the sideboard, and this is not good for the insides of human
beings. His domestic equipment was limited to six rifles, three shotguns, five
saddles, and a collection of stiff-jointed masheer rods, bigger and stronger
than the largest salmon rods. These things occupied one half of his bungalow,
and the other half was given up to Strickland and his dog Tietjens--an enormous
Rampur slut, who sung when she was ordered, and devoured daily the rations of
two men. She spoke to Strickland in a language of her own, and whenever, in her
walks abroad she saw things calculated to destroy the peace of Her Majesty the
Queen Empress, she returned to her master and gave him information. Strickland
would take steps at once, and the end of his labors was trouble and fine and
imprisonment for other people. The natives believed that Tietjens was a
familiar spirit, and treated her with the great reverence that is born of hate
and fear One room in the bungalow was set apart for her special use. She owned
a bedstead, a blanket, and a drinking-trough, and if any one came into
Strickland's room at night, her custom was to knock down the invader and give
tongue till some one came with a light. Strickland owes his life to her. When
he was on the frontier in search of the local murderer who came in the grey
dawn to send Strickland much further than the Andaman Islands, Tietjens caught
him as he was crawling into Strickland's tent with a dagger between his teeth,
and after his record of iniquity was established in the eyes of the law, he was
hanged. From that date Tietjens wore a collar of rough silver and employed a
monogram on her night blanket, and the blanket was double-woven Kashmir cloth,
for she was a delicate dog.
Under no circumstances would she be separated from Strickland, and when he was
ill with fever she made great trouble for the doctors because she did not know
how to help her master and would not allow another creature to attempt aid.
Macarnaght, of the Indian Medical Service, beat her over the head with a gun,
before she could understand that she must give room for those who could give
A short time after Strickland had taken Imray's bungalow, my business took me
through that station, and naturally, the club quarters being full, I quartered
myself upon Strickland. It was a desirable bungalow, eight-roomed, and heavily
thatched against any chance of leakage from rain. Under the pitch of the roof
ran a ceiling cloth, which looked just as nice as a whitewashed ceiling. The
landlord had repainted it when Strickland took the bungalow, and unless you
knew how Indian bungalows were built you would never have suspected that above
the cloth lay the dark, three-cornered cavern of the roof, where the beams and
the under side of the thatch harbored all manner of rats, hats, ants, and other
Tietjens met me in the veranda with a bay like the boom of the bells of St.
Paul's, and put her paws on my shoulders and said she was glad to see me.
Strickland had contrived to put together that sort of meal which he called
lunch, and immediately after it was finished went out about his business. I was
left alone with Tietjens and my own affairs. The heat of the summer had broken
up and given place to the warm damp of the rains. There was no motion in the
heated air, but the rain fell like bayonet rods on the earth, and flung up a
blue mist where it splashed back again. The bamboos and the custard apples, the
poinsettias and the mango-trees in the garden stood still while the warm water
lashed through them, and the frogs began to sing among the aloe hedges. A
little before the light failed, and when the rain was at its worst, I sat in
the back veranda and heard the water roar from the eaves, and scratched myself
because I was covered with the thing they called prickly heat. Tietjens came
out with me and put her head in my lap, and was very sorrowful, so I gave her
biscuits when tea was ready, and I took tea in the back veranda on account of
the little coolness I found there. The rooms of the house were dark behind me.
I could smell Strickland's saddlery and the oil on his guns, and I did not the
least desire to sit among these things. My own servant came to me in the
twilight, the muslin of his clothes clinging tightly to his drenched body, and
told me that a gentleman had called and wished to see some one. Very much
against my will, and because of the darkness of the rooms, I went into the
naked drawing-room, telling my man to bring the lights. There might or might
not have been a caller in the room--it seems to me that I saw a figure by one
of the windows, but when the lights came there was nothing save the spikes of
the rain without and the smell of the drinking earth in my nostrils. I
explained to my man that he was no wiser than he ought to be, and went back to
the veranda to talk to Tietjens. She had gone out into the wet and I could
hardly coax her back to me--even with biscuits with sugar on top. Strickland
rode back, dripping wet, just before dinner, and the first thing he said was:
Has any one called?"
I explained, with apologies, that my servant had called me into the drawing-
room on a false alarm; or that some loafer had tried to call on Strickland,
and, thinking better of it, fled after giving his name. Strickland ordered
dinner without comment, and since it was a real dinner, with white tablecloth
attached, we sat down.
At nine o'clock Strickland wanted to go to bed, and I was tired too. Tietjens,
who had been lying underneath the table, rose up and went into the least
exposed veranda as soon as her master moved to his own room, which was next to
the stately chamber set apart for Tietjens. If a mere wife had wished to sleep
out-of-doors in that pelting rain, it would not have mattered, but Tietjens was
a dog, and therefore the better animal. I looked at Strickland, expecting to
see him flog her with a whip. He smiled queerly, as a man would smile after
telling some hideous domestic tragedy. "She has done this ever since I moved in
The dog was Strickland's dog, so I said nothing, but I felt all that Strickland
felt in being made light of. Tietjens encamped outside my bedroom window, and
storm after storm came up, thundered on the thatch, and died away. The
lightning spattered the sky as a thrown egg spattered a barn door, but the
light was pale blue, not yellow; and looking through my slit bamboo blinds, I
could see the great dog standing, not sleeping, in the veranda, the hackles
alift on her back, and her feet planted as tensely as the drawn wire rope of a
suspension bridge. In the very short pauses of the thunder I tried to sleep,
but it seemed that some one wanted me very badly. He, whoever he was, was
trying to call me by name, but his voice was no more than a husky whisper. Then
the thunder ceased and Tietjens went into the garden and howled at the low
moon. Somebody tried to open my door, and walked about and through the house,
and stood breathing heavily in the verandas, and just when I was falling asleep
I fancied that I heard a wild hammering and clamoring above my head or on the
I ran into Strickland's room and asked him whether he was ill and had been
calling for me. He was lying on the bed half-dressed, with a pipe in his mouth.
"I thought you'd come," he said. "Have I been walking around the house at all?"
I explained that he had been in the dining-room and the smoking-room and two or
three other places; and he laughed and told me to go back to bed. I went back
to bed and slept till the morning, but in all my dreams I was sure I was doing
some one an injustice in not attending to his wants. What those wants were I
could not tell, but a fluttering, whispering, bolt-fumbling, luring, loitering
some one was reproaching me for my slackness, and through all the dreams I
heard the howling of Tietjens in the garden and the thrashing of the rain.
I was in that house for two days, and Strickland went to his office daily,
leaving me alone for eight or ten hours a day, with Tietjens for my only
companion. As long as the full light lasted I was comfortable, and so was
Tietjens; but in the twilight she and I moved into the back veranda and cuddled
each other for company. We were alone in the house, but for all that it was
fully occupied by a tenant with whom I had no desire to interfere. I never saw
him, but I could see the curtains between the rooms quivering where he had just
passed through; I could hear the chairs creaking as the bamboos sprung under a
weight that had just quitted them; and I could feel when I went to get a book
from the dining-room that somebody was waiting in the shadows of the front
veranda till I should have gone away. Tietjens made the twilight more
interesting by glaring into the darkened rooms, with every hair erect, and
following the motions of something that I could not see. She never entered the
rooms, but her eyes moved, and that was quite sufficient. Only when my servant
came to trim the lamps and make all light and habitable, she would come in with
me and spend her time sitting on her haunches watching an invisible extra man
as he moved about behind my shoulder. Dogs are cheerful companions.
I explained to Strickland, gently as might be, that I would go over to the club
and find for myself quarters there. I admired his hospitality, was pleased with
his guns and rods, but I did not much care for his house and its atmosphere. He
heard me out to the end, and then smiled very wearily, but without contempt,
for he is a man who understands things. "Stay on," he said, "and see what this
thing means. All you have talked about I have known since I took the bungalow.
Stay on and wait. Tietjens has left me. Are you going too?"
I had seen him through one little affair connected with an idol that had
brought me to the doors of a lunatic asylum, and I had no desire to help him
through further experiences. He was a man to whom unpleasantnesses arrived as
do dinners to ordinary people.
Therefore I explained more clearly than ever that I liked him immensely, and
would he happy to see him in the daytime, but that I didn't care to sleep under
his roof. This was after dinner, when Tietjens had gone out to lie in the
"'Pon my soul, I don't wonder," said Strickland, with his eyes on the ceiling-
cloth. "Look at that."
The tails of two snakes were hanging between the cloth and the cornice of the
wall. They threw long shadows in the lamp-light. "If you are afraid of snakes,
of course"--said Strickland. "I hate and fear snakes, because if you look into
the eyes of any snake you will see that it knows all and more of man's fall,
and that it feels all the contempt that the devil felt when Adam was evicted
from Eden. Besides which its bite is generally fatal, and it bursts up trouser
"You ought to get your thatch over-hauled," I said. "Give me a masheer rod, and
we'll poke 'em down."
"They'll hide among the roof beams," said Strickland. "I can't stand snakes
overhead. I'm going up. If I shake 'em down, stand by with a cleaning-rod and
break their backs."
I was not anxious to assist Strickland in his work, hut I took the loading-rod
and waited in the dining-room, while Strickland brought a gardener's ladder
from the veranda and set it against the side of the room. The snake tails drew
themselves up and disappeared. We could hear the dry rushing scuttle of long
bodies running over the baggy cloth. Strickland took a lamp with him, while I
tried to make clear the danger of hunting roof snakes between a ceiling cloth
and a thatch, apart from the deterioration of property caused by ripping out
"N o n s en s e " said Strickland. "They're sure to hide near the walls by the
cloth. The bricks are too cold for 'em, and the heat of the room is just what
they like." He put his hands to the corner of the cloth and ripped the rotten
stuff from the cornice. It gave great sound of tearing, and Strickland put his
head through the opening into the dark of the angle of the roof beams. I set my
teeth and lifted the loading-rod, for I had not the least knowledge of what
"H'm," said Strickland; and his voice rolled and rumbled in the roof. "There's
room for another set of rooms up here, and, by Jove! some one is occupying em."
"Snakes?" I said down below.
"No. It's a buffalo. Hand me up the two first joints of a masheer rod, and I'll
prod it. It's lying on the main beam."
I handed up the rod.
"What a nest for owls and serpents! No wonder the snakes live here," said
Strickland, climbing further into the roof. I could see his elbow thrusting
with the rod. "Come out of that, whoever you are! Look out! Heads below there!
I saw the ceiling-cloth nearly in the centre of the room bag with a shape that
was pressing it downward and downward toward the lighted lamps on the table. I
snatched a lamp out of danger and stood back. Then the cloth ripped out from
the walls, tore, split, swayed, and shot down upon the table something that I
dared not look at till Strickland had slid down the ladder and was standing by
He did not say much, being a man of few words, but he picked up the loose end
of the table-cloth and threw it over the thing on the table.
"It strikes me," said he, pulling down the lamp, "our friend Imray has come
back. Oh! you would, would you?"
There was a movement under the cloth, and a little snake wriggled out, to be
back-broken by the butt of the masheer rod. I was sufficiently sick to make no
remarks worth recording.
Strickland meditated and helped himself to drinks liberally. The thing under
the cloth made no more signs of life.
"Is it Imray?" I said.
Strickland turned back the cloth for a moment and looked. "It is Imray," he
said, "and his throat is cut from ear to ear."
Then we spoke both together and to ourselves:
"That's why he whispered about the house."
Tietjens, in the garden, began to bay furiously. A little later her great nose
heaved upon the dining-room door.
She sniffed and was still. The broken and tattered ceiling-cloth hung down
almost to the level of the table, and there was hardly room to move away from
Then Tietjens came in and sat down, her teeth bared and her forepaws planted.
She looked at Strickland.
"It's bad business, old lady," said he. "Men don't go up into the roofs of
their bungalows to die, and they don't fasten up the ceiling-cloth behind 'em.
Let's think it out."
"Let's think it out somewhere else," I said.
"Excellent idea! Turn the lamps out. We'll get into my room."
I did not turn the lamps out. I went into Strickland's room first and allowed
him to make the darkness. Then he followed me, and we lighted tobacco and
thought. Strickland did the thinking. I smoked furiously because I was afraid.
"Imray is back," said Strickland. "The question is, who killed Imray? Don't
talk--I have a notion of my own. When I took this bungalow I took most of
Imray's servants. Imray was guileless and inoffensive, wasn't he?"
I agreed, though the heap under the cloth looked neither one thing nor the
"If I call the servants they will stand fast in a crowd and lie like Aryans.
What do you suggest?"
"Call 'em in one by one," I said.
"They'll run away and give the news to all their fellows," said Strickland.
"We must segregate 'em. Do you suppose your servant knows anything about it?"
"He may, for aught I know, hut I don't think it's likely. He has only been here
two or three days."
"What's your notion?" I asked.
"I can't quite tell. How the dickens did the man get the wrong side of the
There was a heavy coughing outside Strickland's bedroom door. This showed that
Bahadur Khan, his body-servant, had waked from sleep and wished to put
Strickland to bed.
"Come in," said Strickland. "It is a very warm night, isn't it?"
Bahadur Khan, a great, green-turbaned, six-foot Mohammedan, said that it was a
very warm night, but that there was more rain pending, which, by his honor's
favor, would bring relief to the country.
"It will be so, if God pleases," said Strickland, tugging off his hoots. "It is
in my mind, Bahadur Khan, that I have worked thee remorselessly for many days--
ever since that time when thou first came into my service. What time was that?"
"Has the heaven-born forgotten? It was when Imray Sahib went secretly to Europe
without warning given, and I--even I--came into the honored service of the
protector of the poor."
"And Imray Sahib went to Europe?"
"It is so said among the servants."
"And thou wilt take service with him when he returns?"
"Assuredly, sahib. He was a good master and cherished his dependents."
"That is true. I am very tired, but I can go buck-shooting tomorrow. Give me
the little rifle that I use for black buck; it is in the case yonder."
The man stooped over the case, banded barrels, stock, and fore-end to
Strickland, who fitted them together. Yawning dolefully, then he reached down
to the gun-case, took a solid drawn cartridge, and slipped it into the breech
of the .360 express.
"And Imray Sahib has gone to Europe secretly? That is very strange, Bahadur
Khan, is it not?"
"What do I know of the ways of the white man, heaven-born?"
"Very little, truly. But thou shalt know more. It has reached me that Imray
Sahib has returned from his so long journeyings, and that even now he lies in
the next room, waiting his servant."
The lamp-light slid along the barrels of the rifle as they leveled themselves
against Bahadur Khan's broad breast.
"Go, then, and look!" said Strickland. "Take a lamp. Thy master is tired, and
he waits. Go!"
The man picked up a lamp and went into the dining-room, Strickland following,
and almost pushing him with the muzzle of the rifle. He looked for a moment at
the black depths behind the ceiling-cloth, at the carcass of the mangled snake
under foot, and last, a grey glaze setting on his face, at the thing under the
"Hast thou seen?" said Strickland, after a pause.
"I have seen. I am clay in the white man's hands. What does the presence do?"
"Hang thee within a month! What else?"
"For killing him? Nay, sahib, consider. Walking among us, his servants, he cast
his eyes upon my child, who was four years old. Him he bewitched, and in ten
days he died of the fever. My child!"
"What said Imray Sahib?"
"He said he was a handsome child, and patted him on the head; wherefore my
child died. Wherefore I killed Imray Sahib in the twilight, when he came back
from office and was sleeping. The heaven-born knows all things. I am the
servant of the heaven-born."
Strickland looked at me above the rifle, and said, in the vernacular: "Thou art
witness to this saying. He has killed."
Bahadur Khan stood ashen grey in the light of the one lamp. The need for
justification came upon him very swiftly.
"I am trapped," he said, "but the offence was that man's. He cast an evil eye
upon my child, and I killed and hid him. Only such as are served by devils," he
glared at Tietjens, crouched stolidly before him, "only such could know what I
"It was clever. But thou shouldst have lashed him to the beam with a rope. Now,
thou thyself wilt hang by a rope. Orderly!"
A drowsy policeman answered Strickland's call. He was followed by another, and
Tietjens sat still.
"Take him to the station," said Strickland. "There is a case toward."
"Do I hang, then?" said Bahadur Khan, making no attempt to escape and keeping
his eyes on the ground.
"If the sun shines, or the water runs, thou wilt hang," said Strickland.
Bahadur Khan stepped back one pace, quivered, and stood still. The two
policemen waited further orders.
"Go!" said Strickland.
"Nay; but I go very swiftly," said Bahadur Khan. "Look! I am even now a dead
He lifted his foot, and to the little toe there clung the head of the half-
killed snake, firm fixed in the agony of death.
"I come of land-holding stock," said Bahadur Khan, rocking where he stood. "It
were a disgrace for me to go to the public scaffold, therefore I take this way.
Be it remembered that the sahib's shirts are correctly enumerated, and that
there is an extra piece of soap in his washbasin. My child was bewitched, and I
slew the wizard. Why should you seek to slay me? My honor is saved, and--and--I
At the end of an hour he died as they die who are bitten by the little kariat,
and the policeman bore him and the thing under the table-cloth to their
appointed places. They were needed to make clear the disappearance of Imray.
"This," said Strickland, very calmly, as he climbed into bed, "is called the
nineteenth century. Did you hear what that man said?"
"I heard," I answered. "Imray made a mistake."
"Simply and solely through not knowing the nature and coincidence of a little
seasonal fever. Bahadur Khan has been with him for four years."
I shuddered. My own servant had been with me for exactly that length of time.
When I went over to my own room I found him waiting, impassive as the copper
head on a penny, to pull off my boots.
"What has befallen Bahadur Khan?" said I.
"He was bitten by a snake and died; the rest the sahib knows," was the answer.
"And how much of the matter hast thou known?"
"As much as might be gathered from one coming in the twilight to seek
satisfaction. Gently, sahib. Let me pull off those boots."
I had just settled to the sleep of exhaustion when I heard Strickland shouting
from his side of the house:
"Tietjens has come back to her room!"
And so she had. The great deer-hound was couched on her own bedstead, on her
own blanket, and in the next room the idle, empty ceiling-cloth wagged light-
heartedly as it flailed on the table.
ONCE upon a time there was a coffee-planter in India who wished to clear some
forest land for coffee-planting. When he had cut down all the trees and burned
the underwood, the stumps still remained. Dynamite is expensive and slow fire
slow. The happy medium for stump-clearing is the lord of all beasts, who is the
elephant. He will either push the stump out of the ground with his tusks, if he
has any, or drag it out with ropes. The planter, therefore, hired elephants by
ones and twos and threes, and fell to work. The very best of all the elephants
belonged to the very worst of all the drivers or mahouts; and this superior
beast's name was Moti Guj. He was the absolute property of his mahout, which
would never have been the case under native rule; for Moti Guj was a creature
to be desired by kings, and his name, being translated, meant the Pearl
Elephant. Because the British government was in the land, Deesa, the mahout,
enjoyed his property undisturbed. He was dissipated. When he had made much
money through the strength of his elephant, he would get extremely drunk and
give Moti Guj a beating with a tent-peg over the tender nails of the forefeet.
Moti Guj never trampled the life out of Deesa on these occasions, for he knew
that after the beating was over, Deesa would embrace his trunk and weep and
call him his love and his life and the liver of his soul, and give him some
liquor. Moti Guj was very fond of liquor--arrack for choice, though he would
drink palm-tree toddy if nothing better offered. Then Deesa would go to sleep
between Moti Guj's forefeet, and as Deesa generally chose the middle of the
public road, and as Moti Guj mounted guard over him, and would not permit
horse, foot, or cart to pass by, traffic was congested till Deesa saw fit to
There was no sleeping in the daytime on the planter's clearing: the wages were
too high to risk. Deesa sat on Moti Guj's neck and gave him orders, while Moti
Guj rooted up the stumps--for he owned a magnificent pair of tusks; or pulled
at the end of a rope--for he had a magnificent pair of shoulders--while Deesa
kicked him behind the ears and said he was the king of elephants. At evening
time Moti Guj would wash down his three hundred pounds' weight of green food
with a quart of arrack, and Deesa would take a share, and sing songs between
Moti Guj's legs till it was time to go to bed. Once a week Deesa led Moti Guj
down to the river, and Moti Gui lay on his side luxuriously in the shallows,
while Deesa went over him with a coir swab and a brick. Moti Guj never mistook
the pounding blow of the latter for the smack of the former that warned him to
get up and turn over on the other side. Then Deesa would look at his feet and
examine his eyes, and turn up the fringes of his mighty ears in case of sores
or budding ophthalmia. After inspection the two would come up with a song from
the sea, Moti Guj, all black and shining, waving a torn tree branch twelve feet
long in his trunk, and Deesa knotting up his own long wet hair.
It was a peaceful, well-paid life till Deesa felt the return of the desire to
drink deep. He wished for an orgy. The little draughts that led nowhere were
taking the manhood out of him.
He went to the planter, and "My mother's dead," said he, weeping.
"She died on the last plantation two months ago, and she died once before that
when you were working for me last year," said the planter, who knew something
of the ways of nativedom.
"Then it's my aunt, and she was just the same as a mother to me," said Deesa,
weeping more than ever. "She has left eighteen small children entirely without
bread, and it is I who must fill their little stomachs," said Deesa, beating
his head on the floor.
"Who brought the news?" said the planter.
"The post," said Deesa.
"There hasn't been a post here for the past week. Get back to your lines!",
"A devastating sickness has fallen on my village, and all my wives are dying,"
yelled Deesa, really in tears this time.
"Call Chihun, who comes from Deesa's village," said the planter. "Chihun, has
this man got a wife?"
"He?" said Chihun. "No. Not a woman of our village would look at him. They'd
sooner marry the elephant!"
Chihun snorted. Deesa wept and bellowed.
"You will get into a difficulty in a minute," said the planter. "Go back to
"Now I will speak Heaven's truth," gulped Deesa, with an inspiration. "I
haven't been drunk for two months. I desire to depart in order to get properly
drunk afar off and distant from this heavenly plantation. Thus I shall cause no
A flickering smile crossed the planter's face. "Deesa," said he, "you've spoken
the truth, and I'd give you leave on the spot if anything could be done with
Moti Guj while you're away. You know that he will only obey your orders."
"May the light of the heavens live forty thousand years. I shall be absent but
ten little days. After that, upon my faith and honor and soul, I return. As to
the inconsiderable interval, have I the gracious permission of the heaven-born
to call up Moti Guj?"
Permission was granted, and in answer of Deesa's shrill yell, the mighty tusker
swung out of the shade of a clump of trees where he had been squirting dust
over himself till his master should return.
"Light of my heart, protector of the drunken, mountain of might, give ear!"
said Deesa, standing in front of him.
Moti Guj gave ear, and saluted with his trunk. "I am going away," said Deesa.
Moti Guj's eyes twinkled. He liked jaunts as well as his master. One could
snatch all manner of nice things from the roadside then.
"But you, you fussy old pig, must stay behind and work."
The twinkle died out as Moti Guj tried to look delighted. He hated stump-
hauling on the plantation. It hurt his teeth.
"I shall be gone for ten days, oh, delectable one! Hold up your near forefoot
and I'll impress the fact upon it, warty toad of a dried mud-puddle." Deesa
took a tent-peg and banged Moti Guj ten times on the nails. Moti Guj grunted
and shuffled from foot to foot.
"Ten days," said Deesa, "you will work and haul and root the trees as Chihun
here shall order you. Take up Chihun and set him on your neck!" Moti Guj curled
the tip of his trunk, Chihun put his foot there, and was swung on to the neck.
Deesa handed Chihun the heavy ankus--the iron elephant goad.
Chihun thumped Moti Guj's bald head as a paver thumps a curbstone.
Moti Guj trumpeted.
"Be still, hog of the backwoods! Chihun's your mahout for ten days. And now bid
me goodbye, beast after mine own heart. Oh, my lord, my king! Jewel of all
created elephants, lily of the herd, preserve your honored health; be virtuous.
Moti Guj lapped his trunk round Deesa and swung him into the air twice. That
was his way of bidding him goodbye.
"He'll work now," said Deesa to the planter. "Have I leave to go?"
The planter nodded, and Deesa dived into the woods. Moti Guj went back to haul
Chihun was very kind to him, but he felt unhappy and forlorn for all that.
Chihun gave him a ball of spices, and tickled him under the chin, and Chihun's
little baby cooed to him after work was over. and Chihun's wife called him a
darling; but Moti Guj was a bachelor by instinct, as Deesa was. He did not
understand the domestic emotions. He wanted the light of his universe back
again--the drink and the drunken slumber, the savage beatings and the savage
None the less he worked well, and the planter wondered. Deesa had wandered
along the roads till he met a marriage procession of his own caste, and,
drinking, dancing, and tippling, had drifted with it past all knowledge of the
lapse of time.
The morning of the eleventh day dawned, and there returned no Deesa, Moti Guj
was loosed from his ropes for the daily stint. He swung clear, looked round,
shrugged his shoulders, and began to walk away, as one having business
"Hi! ho! Come back you!" shouted Chihun. "Come back and put me on your neck,
misborn mountain! Return, splendor of the hillsides! Adornment of all India,
heave to, or I'll bang every toe off your forefoot!"
Moti Guj gurgled gently, but did not obey. Chihun ran after him with a rope and
caught him up. Moti Guj put his ears forward, and Chihun knew what that meant,
though he tried to carry it off with high words.
"None of your nonsense with me," said he. "To your pickets, devil-son!"
"Hrrump!" said Moti Guj, and that was all--that and the forebent ears.
Moti Guj put his hands in his pockets, chewed a branch for a toothpick, and
strolled about the clearing, making fun of the other elephants who had just set
Chihun reported the state of affairs to the planter, who came out with a dog-
whip and cracked it furiously. Moti Guj paid the white man the compliment of
charging him nearly a quarter of a mile across the clearing and "Hrrumphing"
him into his veranda. Then he stood outside the house, chuckling to himself and
shaking all over with the fun of it, as an elephant will.
"We'll thrash him," said the planter. "He shall have the finest thrashing ever
elephant received. Give Kala Nag and Nazim twelve foot of chain apiece, and
tell them to lay on twenty."
Kala Nag--which means Black Snake--and Nazim were two of the biggest elephants
in the lines, and one of their duties was to administer the graver punishment,
since no man can beat an elephant properly.
They took the whipping-chains and rattled them in their trunks as they sidled
up to Moti Guj, meaning to hustle him between them. Moti Guj had never, in all
his life of thirty-nine years, been whipped, and he did not intend to begin a
new experience. So he waited, waving his head from right to left, and measuring
the precise spot in Kala Nag's fat side where a blunt tusk could sink deepest.
Kala Nag had no tusks; the chain was the badge of his authority; but for all
that, he swung wide of Moti Guj at the last minute, and tried to appear as if
he had brought the chain out for amusement. Nazim turned round and went home
early. He did not feel fighting fit that morning, and so Moti Guj was left
standing alone with his ears cocked.
That decided the planter to argue no more, and Moti Guj rolled back to his
amateur inspection of the clearing. An elephant who will not work and is not
tied up is about as manageable as an eighty-one-ton gun loose in a heavy
seaway. He slapped old friends on the back and asked them if the stumps were
coming away easily; he talked nonsense concerning labor and the inalienable
rights of elephants to a long 'nooning'; and, wandering to and fro, he
thoroughly demoralized the garden till sundown, when he returned to his picket
"If you won't work, you sha'n't eat," said Chihun, angrily. "You're a wild
elephant, and no educated animal at all. Go back to your jungle."
Chihun's little brown baby was rolling on the floor of the hut, and stretching
out its fat arms to the huge shadow in the doorway. Moti Guj knew well that it
was the dearest thing on earth to Chihun. He swung out his trunk with a
fascinating crook at the end, and the brown baby threw itself, shouting, upon
it. Moti Guj made fast and pulled up till the brown baby was crowing in the air
twelve feet above his father's head.
"Great Lord!" said Chihun. "Flour cakes of the best, twelve in number, two feet
across and soaked in rum, shall be yours on the instant, and two hundred pounds
weight of fresh-cut young sugar-cane therewith. Deign only to put down safely
that insignificant brat who is my heart and my life to me!"
Moti Guj tucked the brown baby comfortably between his forefeet, that could
have knocked into toothpicks all Chihun's hut, and waited for his food. He ate
it, and the brown baby crawled away. Moti Guj dozed and thought of Deesa. One
of many mysteries connected with the elephant is that his huge body needs less
sleep than anything else that lives. Four or five hours in the night suffice--
two just before midnight, lying down on one side; two just after one o'clock,
lying down on the other. The rest of the silent hours are filled with eating
and fidgeting, and long grumbling soliloquies.
At midnight, therefore, Moti Guj strode out of his pickets, for a thought had
come to him that Deesa might be lying drunk somewhere in the dark forest with
none to look after him. So all that night he chased through the undergrowth,
blowing and trumpeting and shaking his ears. He went down to the river and
blared across the shallows where Deesa used to wash him, hut there was no
answer. He could not find Deesa, but he disturbed all the other elephants in
the lines, and nearly frightened to death some gypsies in the woods.
At dawn Deesa returned to the plantation. He had been very drunk in deed, and
he expected to get into trouble for outstaying his leave. He drew a long breath
when he saw that the bungalow and the plantation were still uninjured, for he
knew something of Moti Guj's temper, and reported himself with many lies and
salaams. Moti Guj had gone to his pickets for breakfast. The night exercise had
made him hungry.
"Call up your beast," said the planter; and Deesa shouted in the mysterious
elephant language that some mahouts believe came from China at the birth of the
world, when elephants and not men were masters. Moti Guj heard and came.
Elephants do not gallop They move from places at varying rates of speed. If an
elephant wished to catch an express train he could not gallop, but he could
catch the train. So Moti Guj was at the planter's door almost before Chihun
noticed that he had left his pickets. He fell into Deesa's arms trumpeting with
joy, and the man and beast wept and slobbered over each other, and handled each
other from head to heel to see that no harm had befallen
"Now we will get to work," said Deesa. "Lift me up, my son and my joy!"
Moti Guj swung him up, and the two went to the coffee-clearing to look for
The planter was too astonished to be very angry.