Part 5 out of 9
his hack to a place inside the circle of the course, where two bricks had
been thrown. He faced toward the brick-mounds at the lower end of the
course and waited.
The story of the running is in the _Pioneer_. At the end of the first
mile, Shackles crept out of the ruck, well on the outside, ready to get
round the turn, lay hold of the bit and spin up the straight before the
others knew he had got away. Brunt was sitting still, perfectly happy,
listening to the "drum-drum-drum" of the hoofs behind, and knowing that,
in about twenty strides, Shackles would draw one deep breath and go up the
last half-mile like the "Flying Dutchman." As Shackles went short to take
the turn and came abreast of the brick-mound, Brunt heard, above the noise
of the wind in his ears, a whining, wailing voice on the offside,
saying--"God ha' mercy, I'm done for!" In one stride. Brunt saw the whole
seething smash of the Maribyrnong Plate before him, started in his saddle
and gave a yell of terror. The start brought the heels into Shackles'
side, and the scream hurt Shackles' feelings. He couldn't stop dead; but
he put out his feet and slid along for fifty yards, and then, very gravely
and judicially, bucked off Brunt--a shaking, terror-stricken lump, while
Regula Baddun made a neck-and-neck race with Bobolink up the straight, and
won by a short head--Petard a bad third. Shackles' owner, in the Stand,
tried to think that his field-glasses had gone wrong. Regula Baddun's
owner, waiting by the two bricks, gave one deep sigh of relief, and
cantered back to the Stand. He had won, in lotteries and bets, about
It was a Broken-Link Handicap with a vengeance. It broke nearly all the
men concerned, and nearly broke the heart of Shackles' owner. He went down
to interview Brunt. The boy lay, livid and gasping with fright, where he
had tumbled off. The sin of losing the race never seemed to strike him.
All he knew was that Whalley had "called" him, that the "call" was a
warning; and, were he cut in two for it, he would never get up again. His
nerve had gone altogether, and he only asked his master to give him a good
thrashing, and let him go. He was fit for nothing, he said. He got his
dismissal, and crept up to the paddock, white as chalk, with blue lips,
his knees giving way under him. People said nasty things in the paddock;
but Brunt never heeded. He changed into tweeds, took his stick and went
down the road, still shaking with fright, and muttering over and over
again--"God ha' mercy, I'm done for!" To the best of my knowledge and
belief he spoke the truth.
So now you know how the Broken-Link Handicap was run and won. Of course
you don't believe it. You would credit anything about Russia's designs on
India, or the recommendations of the Currency Commission; but a little bit
of sober fact is more than you can stand.
ON GREENHOW HILL
To Love's low voice she lent a careless ear;
Her hand within his rosy fingers lay,
A chilling weight. She would not turn or hear;
But with averted face went on her way.
But when pale Death, all featureless and grim,
Lifted his bony hand, and beckoning
Held out his cypress-wreath, she followed him,
And Love was left forlorn and wondering,
That she who for his bidding would not stay,
At Death's first whisper rose and went away.
"_Ohe, Ahmed Din! Shafiz Ulla ahoo!_ Bahadur Khan, where are you? Come out
of the tents, as I have done, and fight against the English. Don't kill
your own kin! Come out to me!"
The deserter from a native corps was crawling round the outskirts of the
camp, firing at intervals, and shouting invitations to his old comrades.
Misled by the rain and the darkness, he came to the English wing of the
camp, and with his yelping and rifle-practice disturbed the men. They had
been making roads all day, and were tired.
Ortheris was sleeping at Learoyd's feet. "Wot's all that?" he said
thickly. Learoyd snored, and a Snider bullet ripped its way through the
tent wall. The men swore, "it's that bloomin' deserter from the
Aurangabadis," said Ortheris. "Git up, some one, an' tell 'im 'e's come to
the wrong shop,"
"Go to sleep, little man," said Mulvaney, who was steaming nearest the
door. "I can't arise and expaytiate with him. Tis rainin' entrenchin'
"'Tain't because you bloomin' can't. It's 'cause you bloomin' won't, ye
long, limp, lousy, lazy beggar, you. 'Ark to 'im 'owlin'!"
"Wot's the good of argifying? Put a bullet into the swine! 'E's keepin' us
awake!" said another voice.
A subaltern shouted angrily, and a dripping sentry whined from the
"'Tain't no good, sir. I can't see 'im. 'E's 'idin' somewhere down 'ill."
Ortheris tumbled out of his blanket. "Shall I try to get 'im, sir?" said
"No," was the answer. "Lie down. I won't have the whole camp shooting all
round the clock. Tell him to go and pot his friends."
Ortheris considered for a moment. Then, putting his head under the tent
wall, he called, as a 'bus conductor calls in a block, "'Igher up, there!
The men laughed, and the laughter was carried down wind to the deserter,
who, hearing that he had made a mistake, went off to worry his own
regiment half a mile away. He was received with shots; the Aurangabadis
were very angry with him for disgracing their colors.
"An' that's all right," said Ortheris, withdrawing his head as he heard
the hiccough of the Sniders in the distance. "S'elp me Gawd, tho', that
man's not fit to live--messin' with my beauty-sleep this way."
"Go out and shoot him in the morning, then," said the subaltern
incautiously. "Silence in the tents now. Get your rest, men."
Ortheris lay down with a happy little sigh, and in two minutes there was
no sound except the rain on the canvas and the all-embracing and elemental
snoring of Learoyd.
The camp lay on a bare ridge of the Himalayas, and for a week had been
waiting for a flying column to make connection. The nightly rounds of the
deserter and his friends had become a nuisance.
In the morning the men dried themselves in hot sunshine and cleaned their
grimy accoutrements. The native regiment was to take its turn of
road-making that day while the Old Regiment loafed.
"I'm goin' to lay for a shot at that man," said Ortheris, when he had
finished washing out his rifle, "'E comes up the watercourse every evenin'
about five o'clock. If we go and lie out on the north 'ill a bit this
afternoon we'll get 'im."
"You're a bloodthirsty little mosquito," said Mulvaney, blowing blue
clouds into the air. "But I suppose I will have to come wid you. Pwhere's
"Gone out with the Mixed Pickles, 'cause 'e thinks 'isself a bloomin'
marksman," said Ortheris, with scorn,
The "Mixed Pickles" were a detachment of picked shots, generally employed
in clearing spurs of hills when the enemy were too impertinent. This
taught the young officers how to handle men, and did not do the enemy much
harm. Mulvaney and Ortheris strolled out of camp, and passed the
Aurangabadis going to their road-making,
"You've got to sweat to-day," said Ortheris, genially. "We're going to get
your man. You didn't knock 'im out last night by any chance, any of you?"
"No. The pig went away mocking us. I had one shot at him," said a private,
"He's my cousin, and _I_ ought to have cleared our dishonor. But good luck
They went cautiously to the north hill, Ortheris leading, because, as he
explained, "this is a long-range show, an' I've got to do it." His was an
almost passionate devotion to his rifle, which, by barrack-room report, he
was supposed to kiss every night before turning in. Charges and scuffles
he held in contempt, and, when they were inevitable, slipped between
Mulvaney and Learoyd, bidding them to fight for his skin as well as their
own. They never failed him. He trotted along, questing like a hound on a
broken trail, through the wood of the north hill. At last he was
satisfied, and threw himself down on the soft pine-needle slope that
commanded a clear view of the watercourse and a brown, bare hillside
beyond it. The trees made a scented darkness in which an army corps could
have hidden from the sun-glare without.
"'Ere's the tail o' the wood," said Ortheris. "'E's got to come up the
watercourse, 'cause it gives 'im cover. We'll lay 'ere. 'Tain't not arf so
bloomin' dusty neither."
He buried his nose in a clump of scentless white violets. No one had come
to tell the flowers that the season of their strength was long past, and
they had bloomed merrily in the twilight of the pines.
"This is something like," he said, luxuriously. "Wot a 'evinly clear drop
for a bullet acrost! How much d'you make it, Mulvaney?"
"Seven hunder. Maybe a trifle less, bekaze the air's so thin."
_Wop! Wop! Wop!_ went a volley of musketry on the rear face of the north
"Curse them Mixed Pickles firin' at nothin'! They'll scare arf the
"Thry a sightin' shot in the middle of the row," said Mulvaney, the man of
many wiles. "There's a red rock yonder he'll be sure to pass. Quick!"
Ortheris ran his sight up to six hundred yards and fired. The bullet threw
up a feather of dust by a clump of gentians at the base of the rock.
"Good enough!" said Ortheris, snapping the scale down. "You snick your
sights to mine or a little lower. You're always firin' high. But remember,
first shot to me, O Lordy! but it's a lovely afternoon."
The noise of the firing grew louder, and there was a tramping of men in
the wood. The two lay very quiet, for they knew that the British soldier
is desperately prone to fire at anything that moves or calls. Then Learoyd
appeared, his tunic ripped across the breast by a bullet, looking ashamed
of himself. He flung down on the pine-needles, breathing in snorts.
"One o' them damned gardeners o' th' Pickles," said he, fingering the
rent. "Firin' to th' right flank, when he knowed I was there. If I knew
who he was I'd 'a' rippen the hide offan him. Look at ma tunic!"
"That's the spishil trustability av a marksman. Train him to hit a fly wid
a stiddy rest at seven hunder, an' he loose on anythin' he sees or hears
up to th' mile. You're well out av that fancy-firin' gang, Jock. Stay
"Bin firin' at the bloomin' wind in the bloomin' treetops," said Ortheris,
with a chuckle. "I'll show you some firin' later on."
They wallowed in the pine-needles, and the sun warmed them where they lay.
The Mixed Pickles ceased firing, and returned to camp, and left the wood
to a few scared apes. The watercourse lifted up its voice in the silence,
and talked foolishly to the rocks. Now and again the dull thump of a
blasting charge three miles away told that the Aurangabadis were in
difficulties with their road-making. The men smiled as they listened and
lay still, soaking in the warm leisure. Presently Learoyd, between the
whiffs of his pipe--
"Seems queer--about 'im yonder--desertin' at all."
"'E'll be a bloomin' side queerer when I've done with 'im," said Ortheris.
They were talking in whispers, for the stillness of the wood and the
desire of slaughter lay heavy upon them.
"I make no doubt he had his reasons for desertin'; but, my faith! I make
less doubt ivry man has good reason for killin' him," said Mulvaney.
"Happen there was a lass tewed up wi'it. Men do more than more for th'
sake of a lass."
"They make most av us 'list. They've no manner av right to make us
"Ah; they make us 'list, or their fathers do," said Learoyd, softly, his
helmet over his eyes.
Ortheris's brows contracted savagely. He was watching the valley, "If it's
a girl I'll shoot the beggar twice over, an' second time for bein' a fool.
You're blasted sentimental all of a sudden, Thinkin' o' your last near
"Nay, lad; ah was but thinkin' o' what had happened,"
"An' fwhat has happened, ye lumberin' child av calamity, that you're
lowing like a cow-calf at the back av the pasture, an' suggestin'
invidious excuses for the man Stanley's goin' to kill. Ye'll have to wait
another hour yet, little man. Spit it out, Jock, an' bellow melojus to the
moon. It takes an earthquake or a bullet graze to fetch aught out av you.
Discourse, Don Juan! The a-moors av Lotharius Learoyd! Stanley, kape a
rowlin' rig'mental eye on the valley."
"It's along o' yon hill there," said Learoyd, watching the bare
sub-Himalayan spur that reminded him of his Yorkshire moors. He was
speaking more to himself than his fellows.
"Ay," said he, "Rumbolds Moor stands up ower Skipton town, an' Greenhow
Hill stands up ower Pately Brig. I reckon you've never heeard tell o'
Greenhow Hill, but yon bit o' bare stuff if there was nobbut a white road
windin' is like ut; strangely like. Moors an' moors an' moors, wi' never a
tree for shelter, an' grey houses wi' flagstone rooves, and pewits cryin',
an' a windhover goin' to and fro just like these kites. And cold! A wind
that cuts you like a knife. You could tell Greenhow Hill folk by the
red-apple color o' their cheeks an' nose tips, and their blue eyes, driven
into pin-points by the wind. Miners mostly, burrowin' for lead i' th'
hillsides, followin' the trail of th' ore vein same as a field-rat. It was
the roughest minin' I ever seen. Yo'd come on a bit o' creakin' wood
windlass like a well-head, an' you was let down i' th' bight of a rope,
fendin' yoursen off the side wi' one hand, carryin' a candle stuck in a
lump o' clay with t'other, an' clickin' hold of a rope with t'other hand."
"An' that's three of them," said Mulvaney. "Must be a good climate in
Learoyd took no heed.
"An' then yo' came to a level, where you crept on your hands and knees
through a mile o' windin' drift, 'an' you come out into a cave-place as
big as Leeds Townhall, with a engine pumpin' water from workin's 'at went
deeper still. It's a queer country, let alone minin', for the hill is full
of those natural caves, an' the rivers an' the becks drops into what they
call pot-holes, an' come out again miles away."
"Wot was you doin' there?" said Ortheris.
"I was a young chap then, an' mostly went wi' 'osses, leadin' coal and
lead ore; but at th' time I'm tellin' on I was drivin' the waggon-team i'
th' big sumph. I didn't belong to that countryside by rights. I went there
because of a little difference at home, an' at fust I took up wi' a rough
lot. One night we'd been drinkin', an' I must ha' hed more than I could
stand, or happen th' ale was none so good. Though i' them days, By for
God, I never seed bad ale." He flung his arms over his head, and gripped a
vast handful of white violets. "Nah," said he, "I never seed the ale I
could not drink, the bacca I could not smoke, nor the lass I could not
kiss. Well, we mun have a race home, the lot on us. I lost all th' others,
an' when I was climbin' ower one of them walls built o' loose stones, I
comes down into the ditch, stones and all, an' broke my arm. Not as I
knawed much about it, for I fell on th' back of my head, an' was knocked
stupid like. An' when I come to mysen it were mornin', an' I were lyin' on
the settle i' Jesse Roantree's house-place, an' 'Liza Roantree was settin'
sewin'. I ached all ower, and my mouth were like a limekiln. She gave me a
drink out of a china mug wi' gold letters--'A Present from Leeds'--as I
looked at many and many a time at after. 'Yo're to lie still while Dr.
Warbottom comes, because your arm's broken, and father has sent a lad to
fetch him. He found yo' when he was goin' to work, an' carried you here on
his back,' sez she. 'Oa!' sez I; an' I shet my eyes, for I felt ashamed o'
mysen. 'Father's gone to his work these three hours, an' he said he' tell
'em to get somebody to drive the tram.' The clock ticked, an' a bee comed
in the house, an' they rung i' my head like mill-wheels. An' she give me
another drink an' settled the pillow. 'Eh, but yo're young to be getten
drunk an' such like, but yo' won't do it again, will yo'?'--'Noa,' sez I,
'I wouldn't if she'd not but stop they mill-wheels clatterin'.'"
"Faith, it's a good thing to be nursed by a woman when you're sick!" said
Mulvaney. "Dir' cheap at the price av twenty broken heads."
Ortheris turned to frown across the valley. He had not been nursed by many
women in his life.
"An' then Dr. Warbottom comes ridin' up, an' Jesse Roantree along with
'im. He was a high-larned doctor, but he talked wi' poor folk same as
theirsens. 'What's ta bin agaate on naa?' he sings out. 'Brekkin' tha
thick head?' An' he felt me all ovver. 'That's none broken. Tha' nobbut
knocked a bit sillier than ordinary, an' that's daaft eneaf.' An' soa he
went on, callin' me all the names he could think on, but settin' my arm,
wi' Jesse's help, as careful as could be. 'Yo' mun let the big oaf bide
here a bit, Jesse,' he says, when he hed strapped me up an' given me a
dose o' physic; 'an' you an' 'Liza will tend him, though he's scarcelins
worth the trouble. An' tha'll lose tha work,' sez he, 'an' tha'll be upon
th' Sick Club for a couple o' months an' more. Doesn't tha think tha's a
"But whin was a young man, high or low, the other av a fool, I'd like to
know?" said Mulvaney, "Sure, folly's the only safe way to wisdom, for I've
"Wisdom!" grinned Ortheris, scanning his comrades with uplifted chin.
"You're bloomin' Solomons, you two, ain't you?"
Learoyd went calmly on, with a steady eye like an ox chewing the cud.
"And that was how I come to know 'Liza Roantree. There's some tunes as she
used to sing--aw, she were always singin'--that fetches Greenhow Hill
before my eyes as fair as yon brow across there. And she would learn me to
sing bass, an' I was to go to th' chapel wi' 'em where Jesse and she led
the singin', th' old man playin' the fiddle. He was a strange chap, old
Jesse, fair mad wi' music, an' he made me promise to learn the big fiddle
when my arm was better. It belonged to him, and it stood up in a big case
alongside o' th' eight-day clock, but Willie Satterthwaite, as played it
in the chapel, had getten deaf as a door-post, and it vexed Jesse, as he
had to rap him ower his head wi' th' fiddle-stick to make him give ower
sawin' at th' right time.
"But there was a black drop in it all, an' it was a man in a black coat
that brought it. When th' primitive Methodist preacher came to Greenhow,
he would always stop wi' Jesse Roantree, an' he laid hold of me from th'
beginning. It seemed I wor a soul to be saved, and he meaned to do it. At
th' same time I jealoused 'at he were keen o' savin' 'Liza Roantree's soul
as well, and I could ha' killed him many a time. An' this went on till one
day I broke out, an' borrowed th' brass for a drink from 'Liza. After
fower days I come back, wi' my tail between my legs, just to see 'Liza
again. But Jesse were at home an' th' preacher--th' Reverend Amos
Barraclough. 'Liza said naught, but a bit o' red come into her face as
were white of a regular thing. Says Jesse, tryin' his best to be civil,
'Nay, lad, it's like this. You've getten to choose which way it's goin' to
be. I'll ha' nobody across ma doorstep as goes a-drinkin', an' borrows my
lass's money to spend i' their drink. Ho'd tha tongue, 'Liza,' sez he,
when she wanted to put in a word 'at I were welcome to th' brass, and she
were none afraid that I wouldn't pay it back. Then the Reverend cuts in,
seein' as Jesse were losin' his temper, an' they fair beat me among them.
But it were 'Liza, as looked an' said naught, as did more than either o'
their tongues, an' soa I concluded to get converted."
"Fwhat?" shouted Mulvaney. Then, checking himself, he said softly, "Let
be! Let be! Sure the Blessed Virgin is the mother of all religion an' most
women; an' there's a dale av piety in a girl if the men would only let ut
stay there. I'd ha' been converted myself under the circumstances."
"Nay, but," pursued Learoyd with a blush, "I meaned it."
Ortheris laughed as loudly as he dared, having regard to his business at
"Ay, Ortheris, you may laugh, but you didn't know yon preacher
Barraclough--a little white-faced chap, wi' a voice as 'ud wile a bird off
an a bush, and a way o' layin' hold of folks as made them think they'd
never had a live man for a friend before. You never saw him, an'--an'--you
never seed 'Liza Roantree--never seed 'Liza Roantree.... Happen it was as
much 'Liza as th' preacher and her father, but anyways they all meaned it,
an' I was fair shamed o' mysen, an' so I become what they call a changed
character. And when I think on, it's hard to believe as yon chap going to
prayermeetin's, chapel, and class-meetin's were me. But I never had naught
to say for mysen, though there was a deal o' shoutin', and old Sammy
Strother, as were almost clemmed to death and doubled up with the
rheumatics, would sing out, 'Joyful! Joyful!' and 'at it were better to go
up to heaven in a coal-basket than down to hell i' a coach an' six. And he
would put his poor old claw on my shoulder, sayin', 'Doesn't tha feel it,
tha great lump? Doesn't tha feel it?' An' sometimes I thought I did, and
then again I thought I didn't, an' how was that?"
"The iverlastin' nature av mankind," said Mulvaney. "An', furthermore, I
misdoubt you were built for the Primitive Methodians. They're a new corps
anyways. I hold by the Ould Church, for she's the mother of them all--ay,
an' the father, too. I like her bekase she's most remarkable regimental in
her fittings. I may die in Honolulu, Nova Zambra, or Cape Cayenne, but
wherever I die, me bein' fwhat I am, an' a priest handy, I go under the
same orders an' the same words an' the same unction as tho' the Pope
himself come down from the roof av St. Peter's to see me off. There's
neither high nor low, nor broad nor deep, nor betwixt nor between wid her,
an' that's what I like. But mark you, she's no manner av Church for a wake
man, bekaze she takes the body and the soul av him, onless he has his
proper work to do. I remember when my father died that was three months
comin' to his grave; begad he'd ha' sold the shebeen above our heads for
ten minutes' quittance of purgathory. An' he did all he could. That's why
I say ut takes a strong man to deal with the Ould Church, an' for that
reason you'll find so many women go there. An' that same's a conundrum."
"Wot's the use o' worritin' 'bout these things?" said Ortheris. "You're
bound to find all out quicker nor you want to, any'ow." He jerked the
cartridge out of the breech-block into the palm of his hand. "Ere's my
chaplain," he said, and made the venomous black-headed bullet bow like a
marionette. "'E's goin' to teach a man all about which is which, an' wot's
true, after all, before sundown. But wot 'appened after that, Jock?"
"There was one thing they boggled at, and almost shut th' gate i' my face
for, and that were my dog Blast, th' only one saved out o' a litter o'
pups as was blowed up when a keg o' minin' powder loosed off in th'
storekeeper's hut. They liked his name no better than his business, which
were fightin' every dog he comed across; a rare good dog, wi' spots o'
black and pink on his face, one ear gone, and lame o' one side wi' being
driven in a basket through an iron roof, a matter of half a mile.
"They said I mun give him up 'cause he were worldly and low; and would I
let mysen be shut out of heaven for the sake on a dog? 'Nay,' says I, 'if
th' door isn't wide enough for th' pair on us, we'll stop outside, for
we'll none be parted.' And th' preacher spoke up for Blast, as had a
likin' for him from th' first--I reckon that was why I come to like th'
preacher--and wouldn't hear o' changin' his name to Bless, as some o' them
wanted. So th' pair on us became reg'lar chapel-members. But it's hard for
a young chap o' my build to cut traces from the world, th' flesh, an' the
devil all uv a heap. Yet I stuck to it for a long time, while th' lads as
used to stand about th' town-end an' lean ower th' bridge, spittin' into
th' beck o' a Sunday, would call after me, 'Sitha, Learoyd, when's ta bean
to preach, 'cause we're comin' to hear tha.'--'Ho'd tha jaw. He hasn't
getten th' white choaker on ta morn,' another lad would say, and I had to
double my fists hard i' th' bottom of my Sunday coat, and say to mysen,
'If 'twere Monday and I warn't a member o' the Primitive Methodists, I'd
leather all th' lot of yond'.' That was th' hardest of all--to know that I
could fight and I mustn't fight."
Sympathetic grunts from Mulvaney.
"So what wi' singin', practicin', and class-meetin's, and th' big fiddle,
as he made me take between my knees, I spent a deal o' time i' Jesse
Roantree's house-place. But often as I was there, th' preacher fared to me
to go oftener, and both th' old man an' th' young woman were pleased to
have him. He lived i' Pately Brig, as were a goodish step off, but he
come. He come all the same. I liked him as well or better as any man I'd
ever seen i' one way, and yet I hated him wi' all my heart i' t'other, and
we watched each other like cat and mouse, but civil as you please, for I
was on my best behavior, and he was that fair and open that I was bound to
be fair with him. Rare good company he was, if I hadn't wanted to wring
his cliver little neck half of the time. Often and often when he was goin'
from Jesse's I'd set him a bit on the road."
"See 'im 'ome, you mean?" said Ortheris,
"Ay. It's a way we have i' Yorkshire o' seein' friends off. You was a
friend as I didn't want to come back, and he didn't want me to come back
neither, and so we'd walk together toward Pately, and then he'd set me
back again, and there we'd be wal two o'clock i' the mornin' settin' each
other to an' fro like a blasted pair o' pendulums twixt hill and valley,
long after th' light had gone out i' 'Liza's window, as both on us had
been looking at, pretending to watch the moon."
"Ah!" broke in Mulvaney, "ye'd no chanst against the maraudin'
psalm-singer. They'll take the airs an' the graces instid av the man nine
times out av ten, an' they only find the blunder later--the wimmen."
"That's just where yo're wrong," said Learoyd, reddening under the
freckled tan of his cheeks. "I was th' first wi' 'Liza, an' yo'd think
that were enough. But th' parson were a steady-gaited sort o' chap, and
Jesse were strong o' his side, and all th' women i' the congregation
dinned it to 'Liza 'at she were fair fond to take up wi' a wastrel
ne'er-do-weel like me, as was scarcelins respectable an' a fighting dog at
his heels. It was all very well for her to be doing me good and saving my
soul, but she must mind as she didn't do herself harm. They talk o' rich
folk bein' stuck up an' genteel, but for cast-iron pride o' respectability
there's naught like poor chapel folk. It's as cold as th' wind o' Greenhow
Hill--ay, and colder, for 'twill never change. And now I come to think on
it, one at strangest things I know is 'at they couldn't abide th' thought
o' soldiering. There's a vast o' fightin' i' th' Bible, and there's a deal
of Methodists i' th' army; but to hear chapel folk talk yo'd think that
soldierin' were next door, an' t'other side, to hangin'. I' their meetin's
all their talk is o' fightin'. When Sammy Strother were stuck for summat
to say in his prayers, he'd sing out, 'Th' sword o' th' Lord and o'
Gideon. They were allus at it about puttin' on th' whole armor o'
righteousness, an' fightin' the good fight o' faith. And then, atop o' 't
all, they held a prayer-meetin' ower a young chap as wanted to 'list, and
nearly deafened him, till he picked up his hat and fair ran away. And
they'd tell tales in th' Sunday-school o' bad lads as had been thumped and
brayed for bird-nesting o' Sundays and playin' truant o' week days, and
how they took to wrestlin', dog-fightin', rabbit-runnin', and drinkin',
till at last, as if 'twere a hepitaph on a gravestone, they damned him
across th' moors wi', 'an' then he went and 'listed for a soldier,' an'
they'd all fetch a deep breath, and throw up their eyes like a hen
"Fwhy is ut?" said Mulvaney, bringing down his hand on his thigh with a
crack, "In the name av God, fwhy is ut? I've seen ut, tu. They cheat an'
they swindle an' they lie an' they slander, an' fifty things fifty times
worse; but the last an' the worst by their reckonin' is to serve the Widdy
honest. It's like the talk av childer--seein' things all round."
"Plucky lot of fightin' good fights of whatsername they'd do if we didn't
see they had a quiet place to fight in. And such fightin' as theirs is!
Cats on the tiles. T'other callin' to which to come on. I'd give a month's
pay to get some o' them broad-backed beggars in London sweatin' through a
day's road-makin' an' a night's rain. They'd carry on a deal
afterward--same as we're supposed to carry on. I've bin turned out of a
measly arf-license pub down Lambeth way, full o' greasy kebmen, 'fore
now," said Ortheris with an oath.
"Maybe you were dhrunk," said Mulvaney, soothingly.
"Worse nor that. The Forders were drunk. _I_ was wearin' the Queen's
"I'd no particular thought to be a soldier i' them days," said Learoyd,
still keeping his eye on the bare hill opposite, "but this sort o' talk
put it i' my head. They was so good, th' chapel folk, that they tumbled
ower t'other side. But I stuck to it for 'Liza's sake, specially as she
was learning me to sing the bass part in a horotorio as Jesse were gettin'
up. She sung like a throstle hersen, and we had practicin's night after
night for a matter of three months."
"I know what a horotorio is," said Ortheris, pertly. "It's a sort of
chaplain's sing-song--words all out of the Bible, and hullabaloojah
"Most Greenhow Hill folks played some instrument or t'other, an' they all
sung so you mignt have heard them miles away, and they were so pleased wi'
the noise they made they didn't fair to want anybody to listen. The
preacher sung high seconds when he wasn't playin' the flute, an' they set
me, as hadn't got far with big fiddle, again Willie Satterthwaite, to jog
his elbow when he had to get a' gate playin'. Old Jesse was happy if ever
a man was, for he were th' conductor an' th' first fiddle an' th' leadin'
singer, beatin' time wi' his fiddle-stick, till at times he'd rap with it
on the table, and cry out, 'Now, you mun all stop; it's my turn,' And he'd
face round to his front, fair sweating wi' pride, to sing th' tenor solos.
But he were grandest i' th' choruses, waggin' his head, flinging his arms
round like a windmill, and singin' hisself black in the face. A rare
singer were Jesse.
"Yo' see, I was not o' much account wi' 'em all exceptin' to 'Liza
Roantree, and I had a deal o' time settin' quiet at meetings and horotorio
practices to hearken their talk, and if it were strange to me at
beginnin', it got stranger still at after, when I was shut on it, and
could study what it meaned.
"Just after th' horotorios come off, 'Liza, as had allus been weakly like,
was took very bad. I walked Dr. Warbottom's horse up and down a deal of
times while he were inside, where they wouldn't let me go, though I fair
ached to see her.
"'She'll be better i' noo, lad--better i' noo,' he used to say. 'Tha mun
ha' patience.' Then they said if I was quiet I might go in, and th'
Reverend Amos Barraclough used to read to her lyin' propped up among th'
pillows. Then she began to mend a bit, and they let me carry her on to th'
settle, and when it got warm again she went about same as afore. Th'
preacher and me and Blast was a deal together i' them days, and i' one way
we was rare good comrades. But I could ha' stretched him time and again
with a good will. I mind one day he said he would like to go down into th'
bowels o' th' earth, and see how th' Lord had builded th' framework o' th'
everlastin' hills. He were one of them chaps as had a gift o' sayin'
things. They rolled off the tip of his clever tongue, same as Mulvaney
here, as would ha' made a rare good preacher if he had nobbut given his
mind to it. I lent him a suit o' miner's kit as almost buried th' little
man, and his white face down i' th' coat-collar and hat-flap looked like
the face of a boggart, and he cowered down i' th' bottom o' the waggon. I
was drivin' a tram as led up a bit of an incline up to th' cave where the
engine was pumpin', and where th' ore was brought up and put into th'
waggons as went down o' themselves, me puttin' th' brake on and th' horses
a-trottin' after. Long as it was daylight we were good friends, but when
we got fair into th' dark, and could nobbut see th' day shinin' at the
hole like a lamp at a street-end, I feeled downright wicked. Ma religion
dropped all away from me when I looked back at him as were always comin'
between me and 'Liza. The talk was 'at they were to be wed when she got
better, an' I couldn't get her to say yes or nay to it. He began to sing a
hymn in his thin voice, and I came out wi' a chorus that was all cussin'
an' swearin' at my horses, an' I began to know how I hated him. He were
such a little chap, too. I could drop him wi' one hand down Garstang's
Copper-hole--a place where th' beck slithered ower th' edge on a rock, and
fell wi' a bit of a whisper into a pit as no rope i' Greenhow could
Again Learoyd rooted up the innocent violets. "Ay, he should see th'
bowels o' th' earth an' never naught else. I could take him a mile or two
along th' drift, and leave him wi' his candle doused to cry hallelujah,
wi' none to hear him and say amen. I was to lead him down th' ladder-way
to th' drift where Jesse Roantree was workin', and why shouldn't he slip
on th' ladder, wi' my feet on his fingers till they loosed grip, and I put
him down wi' my heel? If I went fust down th' ladder I could click hold on
him and chuck him over my head, so as he should go squshin' down the shaft
breakin' his bones at ev'ry timberin' as Bill Appleton did when he was
fresh, and hadn't a bone left when he wrought to th' bottom. Niver a
blasted leg to walk from Pately. Niver an arm to put round 'Liza
Roantree's waist. Niver no more--niver no more."
The thick lips curled back over the yellow teeth, and that flushed face
was not pretty to look upon. Mulvaney nodded sympathy, and Ortheris, moved
by his comrade's passion, brought up the rifle to his shoulder, and
searched the hillside for his quarry, muttering ribaldry about a sparrow,
a spout, and a thunderstorm. The voice of the watercourse supplied the
necessary small talk till Learoyd picked up his story,
"But it's none so easy to kill a man like yon. When I'd given up my horses
to th' lad as took my place and I was showin' th' preacher th' workin's,
shoutin' into his ear across th' clang o' th' pumpin' engines, I saw he
were afraid o' naught; and when the lamplight showed his black eyes, I
could feel as he was masterin' me again. I were no better nor Blast
chained up short and growlin' i' the depths of him while a strange dog
went safe past.
"'Th' art a coward and a fool,' I said to mysen; an' I wrestled i' my mind
again' him till, when we come to Garstang's Copper-hole, I laid hold o'
the preacher and lifted him up over my head and held him into the darkest
on it. 'Now, lad,' I says, 'it's to be one or t'other on us--thee or
me--for 'Liza Roantree. Why, isn't thee afraid for thysen?' I says, for he
were still i' my arms as a sack. 'Nay; I'm but afraid for thee, my poor
lad, as knows naught,' says he. I set him down on th' edge, an' th' beck
run stiller, an' there was no more buzzin' in my head like when th' bee
come through th' window o' Jesse's house. 'What dost tha mean?' says I.
"'I've often thought as thou ought to know,' says he, 'but 'twas hard to
tell thee. 'Liza Roantree's for neither on us, nor for nobody o' this
earth, Dr. Warbottom says--and he knows her, and her mother before
her--that she is in a decline, and she cannot live six months longer. He's
known it for many a day. Steady, John! Steady!' says he. And that weak
little man pulled me further back and set me again' him, and talked it all
over quiet and still, me turnin' a bunch o' candles in my hand, and
counting them ower and ower again as I listened. A deal on it were th'
regular preachin' talk, but there were a vast lot as made me begin to
think as he were more of a man than I'd ever given him credit for, till I
were cut as deep for him as I were for mysen.
"Six candles we had, and we crawled and climbed all that day while they
lasted, and I said to mysen, ''Liza Roantree hasn't six months to live.'
And when we came into th' daylight again we were like dead men to look at,
an' Blast come behind us without so much as waggin' his tail. When I saw
'Liza again she looked at me a minute and says, 'Who's telled tha? For I
see tha knows.' And she tried to smile as she kissed me, and I fair broke
"Yo' see, I was a young chap i' them days, and had seen naught o' life,
let alone death, as is allus a-waitin'. She telled me as Dr. Warbottom
said as Greenhow air was too keen, and they were goin' to Bradford, to
Jesse's brother David, as worked i' a mill, and I mun hold up like a man
and a Christian, and she'd pray for me. Well, and they went away, and the
preacher that same back end o' th' year were appointed to another circuit,
as they call it, and I were left alone on Greenhow Hill.
"I tried, and I tried hard, to stick to th' chapel, but 'tweren't th' same
thing at after. I hadn't 'Liza's voice to follow i' th' singin', nor her
eyes a-shinin' acrost their heads. And i' th' class-meetings they said as
I mun have some experiences to tell, and I hadn't a word to say for mysen.
"Blast and me moped a good deal, and happen we didn't behave ourselves
over well, for they dropped us and wondered however they'd come to take us
up. I can't tell how we got through th' time, while i' th' winter I gave
up my job and went to Bradford. Old Jesse were at th' door o' th' house,
in a long street o' little houses. He'd been sendin' th' children 'way as
were clatterin' their clogs in th' causeway, for she were asleep.
"'Is it thee?' he says; 'but you're not to see her. I'll none have her
wakened for a nowt like thee. She's goin' fast, and she mun go in peace.
Thou 'lt never be good for naught i' th' world, and as long as thou lives
thou'll never play the big fiddle. Get away, lad, get away!' So he shut
the door softly i' my face.
"Nobody never made Jesse my master, but it seemed to me he was about
right, and I went away into the town and knocked up against a recruiting
sergeant. The old tales o' th' chapel folk came buzzin' into my head. I
was to get away, and this were th' regular road for the likes o' me, I
listed there and then, took th' Widow's shillin', and had a bunch o'
ribbons pinned i' my hat.
"But next day I found my way to David Roantree's door, and Jesse came to
open it. Says he, 'Thou's come back again wi' th' devil's colors
flyin'--thy true colors, as I always telled thee.'
"But I begged and prayed of him to let me see her nobbut to say good-bye,
till a woman calls down th' stairway, 'She says John Learoyd's to come
up.' Th' old man shifts aside in a flash, and lays his hand on my arm,
quite gentle like. 'But thou'lt be quiet, John,' says he, 'for she's rare
and weak. Thou was allus a good lad.'
"Her eyes were all alive wi' light, and her hair was thick on the pillow
round her, but her cheeks were thin--thin to frighten a man that's strong.
'Nay, father, yo mayn't say th' devil's colors. Them ribbons is pretty.'
An' she held out her hands for th' hat, an' she put all straight as a
woman will wi' ribbons. 'Nay, but what they're pretty,' she says. 'Eh, but
I'd ha' liked to see thee i' thy red coat, John, for thou was allus my own
lad--my very own lad, and none else.'
"She lifted up her arms, and they come round my neck i' a gentle grip, and
they slacked away, and she seemed fainting. 'Now yo' mun get away, lad,'
says Jesse, and I picked up my hat and I came downstairs.
"Th' recruiting sergeant were waitin' for me at th' corner public-house.
'You've seen your sweetheart?' says he. 'Yes, I've seen her,' says I.
'Well, we'll have a quart now, and you'll do your best to forget her,'
says he, bein' one o' them smart, bustlin' chaps. 'Ay, sergeant,' says I.
'Forget her.' And I've been forgettin' her ever since."
He threw away the wilted clump of white violets as he spoke. Ortheris
suddenly rose to his knees, his rifle at his shoulder, and peered across
the valley in the clear afternoon light. His chin cuddled the stock, and
there was a twitching of the muscles of the right cheek as he sighted:
Private Stanley Ortheris was engaged on his business, A speck of white
crawled up the watercourse.
"See that beggar? ... Got 'im,"
Seven hundred yards away, and a full two hundred down the hillside, the
deserter of the Aurangabadis pitched forward, rolled down a red rock, and
lay very still, with his face in a clump of blue gentians, while a big
raven flapped out of the pine wood to make investigation.
"That's a clean shot, little man," said Mulvaney.
Learoyd thoughtfully watched the smoke clear away. "Happen there was a
lass tewed up wi' him, too," said he.
Ortheris did not reply. He was staring across the valley, with the smile
of the artist who looks on the completed work.
TO BE FILED FOR REFERENCE
By the hoof of the Wild Goat up-tossed
From the Cliff where She lay in the Sun,
Fell the Stone
To the Tarn where the daylight is lost;
So She fell from the light of the Sun,
Now the fall was ordained from the first,
With the Goat and the Cliff and the Tarn,
But the Stone
Knows only Her life is accursed,
As She sinks in the depths of the Tarn,
Oh, Thou who hast builded the world!
Oh, Thou who hast lighted the Sun!
Oh, Thou who hast darkened the Tarn!
The sin of the Stone that was hurled
By the Goat from the light of the Sun,
As She sinks in the mire of the Tarn,
Even now--even now--even now!
--_From the Unpublished Papers of McIntosh Jellaluidin_.
"Say is it dawn, is it dusk in thy Bower, Thou whom I long for, who
longest for me? Oh, be it night--be it"--Here he fell over a little
camel-colt that was sleeping in the Serai where the horse-traders and the
best of the blackguards from Central Asia live; and, because he was very
drunk indeed and the night was dark, he could not rise again till I helped
him. That was the beginning of my acquaintance with McIntosh Jellaludin,
When a loafer, and drunk, sings "The Song of the Bower," he must be worth
cultivating. He got off the camel's back and said, rather thickly,
"I--I--I'm a bit screwed, but a dip in Loggerhead will put me right again;
and, I say, have you spoken to Symonds about the mare's knees?"
Now Loggerhead was six thousand weary miles away from us, close to
Mesopotamia, where you mustn't fish and poaching is impossible, and
Charley Symonds' stable a half mile farther across the paddocks. It was
strange to hear all the old names, on a May night, among the horses and
camels of the Sultan Caravanserai. Then the man seemed to remember himself
and sober down at the same time. We leaned against the camel and pointed
to a corner of the Serai where a lamp was burning.
"I live there," said he, "and I should be extremely obliged if you would
be good enough to help my mutinous feet thither; for I am more than
usually drunk--most--most phenomenally tight But not in respect to my
head. 'My brain cries out against'--how does it go? But my head rides on
the--rolls on the dunghill I should have said, and controls the qualm."
I helped him through the gangs of tethered horses and he collapsed on the
edge of the veranda in front of the line of native quarters.
"Thanks--a thousand thanks! O Moon and little, little Stars! To think that
a man should so shamelessly ... Infamous liquor too. Ovid in exile drank
no worse. Better. It was frozen. Alas! I had no ice. Good-night. I would
introduce you to my wife were I sober--or she civilized."
A native woman came out of the darkness of the room, and began calling the
man names; so I went away. He was the most interesting loafer that I had
had the pleasure of knowing for a long time; and later on, he became a
friend of mine. He was a tall, well-built, fair man, fearfully shaken with
drink, and he looked nearer fifty than the thirty-five which, he said, was
his real age. When a man begins to sink in India, and is not sent Home by
his friends as soon as may be, he falls very low from a respectable point
of view. By the time that he changes his creed, as did McIntosh, he is
In most big cities, natives will tell you of two or three _Sahibs_,
generally low-caste, who have turned Hindu or Mussulman, and who live more
or less as such, But it is not often that you can get to know them. As
McIntosh himself used to say, "If I change my religion for my stomach's
sake, I do not seek to become a martyr to missionaries, nor am I anxious
At the outset of acquaintance McIntosh warned me, "Remember this. I am not
an object for charity, I require neither your money, your food, nor your
cast-off raiment. I am that rare animal, a self-supporting drunkard. If
you choose, I will smoke with you, for the tobacco of the bazars does not,
I admit, suit my palate; and I will borrow any books which you may not
specially value. It is more than likely that I shall sell them for bottles
of excessively filthy country liquors, In return, you shall share such
hospitality as my house affords. Here is a charpoy on which two can sit,
and it is possible that there may, from time to time, be food in that
platter. Drink, unfortunately, you will find on the premises at any hour:
and thus I make you welcome to all my poor establishment."
I was admitted to the McIntosh household--I and my good tobacco. But
nothing else. Unluckily, one cannot visit a loafer in the Serai by day.
Friends buying horses would not understand it. Consequently, I was obliged
to see McIntosh after dark. He laughed at this, and said simply, "You are
perfectly right. When I enjoyed a position in society, rather higher than
yours, I should have done exactly the same thing. Good heavens! I was
once"--he spoke as though he had fallen from the Command of a
Regiment--"an Oxford Man!" This accounted for the reference to Charley
"You," said McIntosh, slowly, "have not had that advantage; but, to
outward appearance, you do not seem possessed of a craving for strong
drinks. On the whole, I fancy that you are the luckier of the two. Yet I
am not certain. You are--forgive my saying so even while I am smoking your
excellent tobacco--painfully ignorant of many things."
We were sitting together on the edge of his bedstead, for he owned no
chairs, watching the horses being watered for the night, while the native
woman was preparing dinner. I did not like being patronized by a loafer,
but I was his guest for the time being, though he owned only one very torn
alpaca-coat and a pair of trousers made out of gunny-bags. He took the
pipe out of his mouth, and went on judicially, "All things considered, I
doubt whether you are the luckier. I do not refer to your extremely
limited classical attainments, or your excruciating quantities, but to
your gross ignorance of matters more immediately under your notice. That,
for instance," he pointed to a woman cleaning a samovar near the well in
the centre of the Serai. She was flicking the water out of the spout in
regular cadenced jerks.
"There are ways and ways of cleaning samovars. If you knew why she was
doing her work in that particular fashion, you would know what the Spanish
Monk meant when he said--
I the Trinity illustrate,
Drinking watered orange-pulp--
In three sips the Arian frustrate,
While he drains his at one gulp--
and many other things which now are hidden from your eyes. However, Mrs.
McIntosh has prepared dinner. Let us come and eat after the fashion of the
people of the country--of whom, by the way, you know nothing."
The native woman dipped her hand in the dish with us. This was wrong. The
wife should always wait until the husband has eaten. McIntosh Jellaludin
"It is an English prejudice which I have not been able to overcome; and
she loves me. Why, I have never been able to understand. I foregathered
with her at Jullundur, three years ago, and she has remained with me ever
since. I believe her to be moral, and know her to be skilled in cookery."
He patted the woman's head as he spoke, and she cooed softly. She was not
pretty to look at.
McIntosh never told me what position he had held before his fall. He was,
when sober, a scholar and a gentleman. When drunk, he was rather more of
the first than the second. He used to get drunk about once a week for two
days. On those occasions the native woman tended him while he raved in all
tongues except his own. One day, indeed, he began reciting _Atalanta in
Calydon_, and went through it to the end, beating time to the swing of the
verse with a bedstead-leg. But he did most of his ravings in Greek or
German. The man's mind was a perfect rag-bag of useless things. Once, when
he was beginning to get sober, he told me that I was the only rational
being in the Inferno into which he had descended--a Virgil in the Shades,
he said--and that, in return for my tobacco, he would, before he died,
give me the materials of a new Inferno that should make me greater than
Dante. Then he fell asleep on a horse-blanket and woke up quite calm.
"Man," said he, "when you have reached the uttermost depths of
degradation, little incidents which would vex a higher life, are to you of
no consequence. Last night, my soul was among the Gods; but I make no
doubt that my bestial body was writhing down here in the garbage."
"You were abominably drunk if that's what you mean," I said,
"I _was_ drunk--filthily drunk. I who am the son of a man with whom you
have no concern--I who was once Fellow of a College whose buttery-hatch
you have not seen. I was loathsomely drunk. But consider how lightly I am
touched. It is nothing to me. Less than nothing; for I do not even feel
the headache which should be my portion. Now, in a higher life, how
ghastly would have been my punishment, how bitter my repentance! Believe
me my friend with the neglected education, the highest is as the
lowest--always supposing each degree extreme."
He turned round on the blanket, put his head between his fists and
"On the Soul which I have lost and on the Conscience which I have killed,
I tell you that I cannot feel! I am as the Gods, knowing good and evil,
but untouched by either. Is this enviable or is it not?"
When a man has lost the warning of "next morning's head," he must be in a
bad state. I answered, looking at McIntosh on the blanket, with his hair
over his eyes and his lips blue-white, that I did not think the
insensibility good enough.
"For pity's sake, don't say that! I tell you, it _is_ good and most
enviable. Think of my consolations!"
"Have you so many, then, McIntosh?"
"Certainly; your attempts at sarcasm which is essentially the weapon of a
cultured man, are crude. First, my attainments, my classical and literary
knowledge, blurred, perhaps, by immoderate drinking--which reminds me that
before my soul went to the Gods last night, I sold the Pickering Horace
you so kindly loaned me. Ditta Mull the clothesman has it. It fetched ten
annas, and may be redeemed for a rupee--but still infinitely superior to
yours. Secondly, the abiding affection of Mrs. McIntosh, best of wives.
Thirdly, a monument, more enduring than brass, which I have built up in
the seven years of my degradation."
He stopped here, and crawled across the room for a drink of water. He was
very shaky and sick.
He referred several times to his "treasure"--some great possession that he
owned--but I held this to be the raving of drink. He was as poor and as
proud as he could be. His manner was not pleasant, but he knew enough
about the natives, among whom seven years of his life had been spent, to
make his acquaintance worth having. He used actually to laugh at
Strickland as an ignorant man--"ignorant West and East"--he said. His
boast was, first, that he was an Oxford Man of rare and shining parts,
which may or may not have been true--I did not know enough to check his
statements--and, secondly, that he "had his hand on the pulse of native
life"--which was a fact. As an Oxford Man, he struck me as a prig: he was
always throwing his education about. As a Mohammedan _faquir_--as McIntosh
Jellaludin--he was all that I wanted for my own ends. He smoked several
pounds of my tobacco, and taught me several ounces of things worth
knowing; but he would never accept any gifts, not even when the cold
weather came, and gripped the poor thin chest under the poor thin
alpaca-coat. He grew very angry, and said that I had insulted him, and
that he was not going into hospital. He had lived like a beast and he
would die rationally, like a man.
As a matter of fact, he died of pneumonia; and on the night of his death
sent over a grubby note asking me to come and help him to die.
The native woman was weeping by the side of the bed. McIntosh, wrapped in
a cotton cloth, was too weak to resent a fur coat being thrown over him.
He was very active as far as his mind was concerned, and his eyes were
blazing. When he had abused the Doctor who came with me, so foully that
the indignant old fellow left, he cursed me for a few minutes and calmed
Then he told his wife to fetch out "The Book" from a hole in the wall. She
brought out a big bundle, wrapped in the tail of a petticoat, of old
sheets of miscellaneous note-paper, all numbered and covered with fine
cramped writing. McIntosh ploughed his hand through the rubbish and
stirred it up lovingly.
"This," he said, "is my work--the Book of McIntosh Jellaludin, showing
what he saw and how he lived, and what befell him and others; being also
an account of the life and sins and death of Mother Maturin. What Mirza
Murad Ali Beg's book is to all other books on native life, will my work be
to Mirza Murad Ali Beg's!"
This, as will be conceded by any one who knows Mirza Murad Ali Beg's book,
was a sweeping statement. The papers did not look specially valuable; but
McIntosh handled them as if they were currency-notes. Then said he
"In despite the many weaknesses of your education, you have been good to
me. I will speak of your tobacco when I reach the Gods. I owe you much
thanks for many kindnesses. But I abominate indebtedness. For this reason,
I bequeath to you now the monument more enduring than brass--my one
book--rude and imperfect in parts, but oh how rare in others! I wonder if
you will understand it. It is a gift more honorable than.... Bah! where is
my brain rambling to? You will mutilate it horribly. You will knock out
the gems you call Latin quotations, you Philistine, and you will butcher
the style to carve into your own jerky jargon; but you cannot destroy the
whole of it. I bequeath it to you. Ethel.... My brain again! ... Mrs.
McIntosh, bear witness that I give the _Sahib_ all these papers. They
would be of no use to you, Heart of my Heart; and I lay it upon you," he
turned to me here, "that you do not let my book die in its present form.
It is yours unconditionally--the story of McIntosh Jellaludin, which is
_not_ the story of McIntosh Jellaludin, but of a greater man than he, and
of a far greater woman. Listen now! I am neither mad nor drunk! That book
will make you famous."
I said, "Thank you," as the native woman put the bundle into my arms.
"My only baby!" said McIntosh, with a smile. He was sinking fast, but he
continued to talk as long as breath remained. I waited for the end;
knowing that, in six cases out of ten a dying man calls for his mother. He
turned on his side and said--
"Say how it came into your possession. No one will believe you, but my
name, at least, will live. You will treat it brutally, I know you will.
Some of it must go; the public are fools and prudish fools. I was their
servant once. But do your mangling gently--very gently. It is a great
work, and I have paid for it in seven years' damnation."
His voice stopped for ten or twelve breaths, and then he began mumbling a
prayer of some kind in Greek. The native woman cried very bitterly.
Lastly, he rose in bed and said, as loudly as slowly--"Not guilty, my
Then he fell back, and the stupor held him till he died. The native woman
ran into the Serai among the horses, and screamed and beat her breasts;
for she had loved him.
Perhaps his last sentence in life told what McIntosh had once gone
through; but, saving the big bundle of old sheets in the cloth, there was
nothing in his room to say who or what he had been.
The papers were in a hopeless muddle.
Strickland helped me to sort them, and he said that the writer was either
an extreme liar or a most wonderful person. He thought the former. One of
these days, you may be able to judge for yourselves. The bundle needed
much expurgation and was full of Greek nonsense, at the head of the
chapters, which has all been cut out.
If the thing is ever published, some one may perhaps remember this story,
now printed as a safeguard to prove that McIntosh Jellaludin and not I
myself wrote the Book of Mother Maturin.
I don't want the _Giant's Robe_ to come true in my case.
THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
"Brother to a Prince and fellow to a beggar if he be found worthy."
The Law, as quoted, lays down a fair conduct of life, and one not easy to
follow. I have been fellow to a beggar again and again under circumstances
which prevented either of us finding out whether the other was worthy. I
have still to be brother to a Prince, though I once came near to kinship
with what might have been a veritable King and was promised the reversion
of a Kingdom--army, law-courts, revenue and policy all complete. But,
to-day, I greatly fear that my King is dead, and if I want a crown I must
go and hunt it for myself.
The beginning of everything was in a railway train upon the road to Mhow
from Ajmir. There had been a Deficit in the Budget, which necessitated
traveling, not Second-class, which is only half as dear as First-class,
but by Intermediate, which is very awful indeed. There are no cushions in
the Intermediate class, and the population are either Intermediate, which
is Eurasian, or native, which for a long night journey is nasty, or
Loafer, which is amusing though intoxicated. Intermediates do not
patronize refreshment-rooms. They carry their food in bundles and pots,
and buy sweets from the native sweetmeat-sellers, and drink the roadside
water. That is why in the hot weather Intermediates are taken out of the
carriages dead, and in all weathers are most properly looked down upon.
My particular Intermediate happened to be empty till I reached Nasirabad,
when a huge gentleman in shirt-sleeves entered, and, following the custom
of Intermediates, passed the time of day. He was a wanderer and a vagabond
like myself, but with an educated taste for whiskey. He told tales of
things he had seen and done, of out-of-the-way corners of the Empire into
which he had penetrated, and of adventures in which he risked his life for
a few days' food. "If India was filled with men like you and me, not
knowing more than the crows where they'd get their next day's rations, it
isn't seventy millions of revenue the land would be paying--it's seven
hundred millions," said he: and as I looked at his mouth and chin I was
disposed to agree with him. We talked politics--the politics of Loaferdom
that sees things from the underside where the lath and plaster is not
smoothed off--and we talked postal arrangements because my friend wanted
to send a telegram back from the next station to Ajmir, which is the
turning-off place from the Bombay to the Mhow line as you travel westward.
My friend had no money beyond eight annas which he wanted for dinner, and
I had no money at all, owing to the hitch in the Budget before mentioned.
Further, I was going into a wilderness where, though I should resume touch
with the Treasury, there were no telegraph offices. I was, therefore,
unable to help him in any way.
"We might threaten a Station-master, and make him send a wire on tick,"
said my friend, "but that'd mean inquiries for you and for me, and I've
got my hands full these days. Did you say you are traveling back along
this line within any days?"
"Within ten," I said.
"Can't you make it eight?" said he. "Mine is rather urgent business."
"I can send your telegram within ten days if that will serve you," I said.
"I couldn't trust the wire to fetch him now I think of it. It's this way.
He leaves Delhi on the 23d for Bombay. That means he'll be running through
Ajmir about the night of the 23d."
"But I'm going into the Indian Desert," I explained.
"Well _and_ good," said he. "You'll be changing at Marwar Junction to get
into Jodhpore territory--you must do that--and he'll be coming through
Marwar Junction in the early morning of the 24th by the Bombay Mail. Can
you be at Marwar Junction on that time? 'Twon't be inconveniencing you
because I know that there's precious few pickings to be got out of these
Central India States--even though you pretend to be correspondent of the
"Have you ever tried that trick?" I asked.
"Again and again, but the Residents find you out, and then you get
escorted to the Border before you've time to get your knife into them. But
about my friend here. I _must_ give him a word o' mouth to tell him what's
come to me or else he won't know where to go. I would take it more than
kind of you if you was to come out of Central India in time to catch him
at Marwar junction, and say to him:--'He has gone South for the week.'
He'll know what that means. He's a big man with a red beard, and a great
swell he is. You'll find him sleeping like a gentleman with all his
luggage round him in a Second-class compartment. But don't you be afraid.
Slip down the window, and say:--'He has gone South for the week,' and
he'll tumble. It's only cutting your time of stay in those parts by two
days. I ask you as a stranger--going to the West," he said, with emphasis.
"Where have _you_ come from?" said I.
"From the East," said he, "and I am hoping that you will give him the
message on the Square--for the sake of my Mother as well as your own."
Englishmen are not usually softened by appeals to the memory of their
mothers, but for certain reasons, which will be fully apparent, I saw fit
"It's more than a little matter," said he, "and that's why I ask you to do
it--and now I know that I can depend on you doing it. A Second-class
carriage at Marwar Junction, and a red-haired man asleep in it. You'll be
sure to remember. I get out at the next station, and I must hold on there
till he comes or sends me what I want."
"I'll give the message if I catch him," I said, "and for the sake of your
Mother as well as mine I'll give you a word of advice. Don't try to run
the Central India States just now as the correspondent of the
_Backwoodsman_. There's a real one knocking about here, and it might lead
"Thank you," said he, simply, "and when will the swine be gone? I can't
starve because he's ruining my work. I wanted to get hold of the Degumber
Rajah down here about his father's widow, and give him a jump."
"What did he do to his father's widow then?"
"Filled her up with red pepper and slippered her to death as she hung from
a beam. I found that out myself and I'm the only man that would dare going
into the State to get hush-money for it. They'll try to poison me, same as
they did in Chortumna when I went on the loot there. But you'll give the
man at Marwar Junction my message?"
He got out at a little roadside station, and I reflected. I had heard,
more than once, of men personating correspondents of newspapers and
bleeding small Native States with threats of exposure, but I had never met
any of the caste before. They lead a hard life, and generally die with
great suddenness. The Native States have a wholesome horror of English
newspapers, which may throw light on their peculiar methods of government,
and do their best to choke correspondents with champagne, or drive them
out of their mind with four-in-hand barouches. They do not understand that
nobody cares a straw for the internal administration of Native States so
long as oppression and crime are kept within decent limits, and the ruler
is not drugged, drunk, or diseased from one end of the year to the other.
Native States were created by Providence in order to supply picturesque
scenery, tigers, and tall-writing. They are the dark places of the earth,
full of unimaginable cruelty, touching the Railway and the Telegraph on
one side, and, on the other, the days of Harun-al-Raschid. When I left the
train I did business with divers Kings, and in eight days passed through
many changes of life. Sometimes I wore dress-clothes and consorted with
Princes and Politicals, drinking from crystal and eating from silver.
Sometimes I lay out upon the ground and devoured what I could get, from a
plate made of a flapjack, and drank the running water, and slept under the
same rug as my servant. It was all in the day's work.
Then I headed for the Great Indian Desert upon the proper date, as I had
promised, and the night Mail set me down at Marwar Junction, where a funny
little, happy-go-lucky, native-managed railway runs to Jodhpore. The
Bombay Mail from Delhi makes a short halt at Marwar. She arrived as I got
in, and I had just time to hurry to her platform and go down the
carriages. There was only one Second-class on the train. I slipped the
window and looked down upon a flaming red beard, half covered by a railway
rug. That was my man, fast asleep, and I dug him gently in the ribs. He
woke with a grunt and I saw his face in the light of the lamps. It was a
great and shining face.
"Tickets again?" said he.
"No," said I. "I am to tell you that he is gone South for the week. He is
gone South for the week!"
The train had begun to move out. The red man rubbed his eyes. "He has gone
South for the week," he repeated. "Now that's just like his impidence. Did
he say that I was to give you anything?--'Cause I won't."
"He didn't," I said, and dropped away, and watched the red lights die out
in the dark. It was horribly cold because the wind was blowing off the
sands. I climbed into my own train--not an Intermediate Carriage this
time--and went to sleep.
If the man with the beard had given me a rupee I should have kept it as a
memento of a rather curious affair. But the consciousness of having done
my duty was my only reward.
Later on I reflected that two gentlemen like my friends could not do any
good if they foregathered and personated correspondents of newspapers, and
might, if they "stuck up" one of the little rat-trap states of Central
India or Southern Rajputana, get themselves into serious difficulties. I
therefore took some trouble to describe them as accurately as I could
remember to people who would be interested in deporting them: and
succeeded, so I was later informed, in having them headed back from the
Then I became respectable, and returned to an Office where there were no
Kings and no incidents except the daily manufacture of a newspaper. A
newspaper office seems to attract every conceivable sort of person, to the
prejudice of discipline. Zenana-mission ladies arrive, and beg that the
Editor will instantly abandon all his duties to describe a Christian
prize-giving in a back-slum of a perfectly inaccessible village; Colonels
who have been overpassed for commands sit down and sketch the outline of a
series of ten, twelve, or twenty-four leading articles on Seniority
_versus_ Selection; missionaries wish to know why they have not been
permitted to escape from their regular vehicles of abuse and swear at a
brother-missionary under special patronage of the editorial We; stranded
theatrical companies troop up to explain that they cannot pay for their
advertisements, but on their return from New Zealand or Tahiti will do so
with interest; inventors of patent punkah-pulling machines, carriage
couplings and unbreakable swords and axle-trees call with specifications
in their pockets and hours at their disposal; tea-companies enter and
elaborate their prospectuses with the office pens; secretaries of
ball-committees clamor to have the glories of their last dance more fully
expounded; strange ladies rustle in and say:--"I want a hundred lady's
cards printed _at once_, please," which is manifestly part of an Editor's
duty; and every dissolute ruffian that ever tramped the Grand Trunk Road
makes it his business to ask for employment as a proofreader. And, all the
time, the telephone-bell is ringing madly, and Kings are being killed on
the Continent, and Empires are saying--"You're another," and Mister
Gladstone is calling down brimstone upon the British Dominions, and the
little black copy-boys are whining, "_kaa-pi-chay-ha-yeh_" (copy wanted)
like tired bees, and most of the paper is as blank as Modred's shield,
But that is the amusing part of the year. There are six other months
wherein none ever come to call, and the thermometer walks inch by inch up
to the top of the glass, and the office is darkened to just above
reading-light, and the press machines are red-hot of touch, and nobody
writes anything but accounts of amusements in the Hill-stations or
obituary notices. Then the telephone becomes a tinkling terror, because it
tells you of the sudden deaths of men and women that you knew intimately,
and the prickly-heat covers you as with a garment, and you sit down and
write:--"A slight increase of sickness is reported from the Khuda Janta
Khan District. The outbreak is purely sporadic in its nature, and, thanks
to the energetic efforts of the District authorities, is now almost at an
end. It is, however, with deep regret we record the death, etc."
Then the sickness really breaks out, and the less recording and reporting
the better for the peace of the subscribers. But the Empires and the Kings
continue to divert themselves as selfishly as before, and the Foreman
thinks that a daily paper really ought to come out once in twenty-four
hours, and all the people at the Hill-stations in the middle of their
amusements say:--"Good gracious! Why can't the paper be sparkling? I'm
sure there's plenty going on up here."
That is the dark half of the moon, and, as the advertisements say, "must
be experienced to be appreciated."
It was in that season, and a remarkably evil season, that the paper began
running the last issue of the week on Saturday night, which is to say
Sunday morning, after the custom of a London paper. This was a great
convenience, for immediately after the paper was put to bed, the dawn
would lower the thermometer from 96 to almost 84 for half an hour, and
in that chill--you have no idea how cold is 84 on the grass until you
begin to pray for it--a very tired man could set off to sleep ere the heat
One Saturday night it was my pleasant duty to put the paper to bed alone.
A King or courtier or a courtesan or a community was going to die or get a
new Constitution, or do something that was important on the other side of
the world, and the paper was to be held open till the latest possible
minute in order to catch the telegram. It was a pitchy black night, as
stifling as a June night can be, and the _loo_, the red-hot wind from the
westward, was booming among the tinder-dry trees and pretending that the
rain was on its heels. Now and again a spot of almost boiling water would
fall on the dust with the flop of a frog, but all our weary world knew
that was only pretence. It was a shade cooler in the press-room than the
office, so I sat there, while the type ticked and clicked, and the
night-jars hooted at the windows, and the all but naked compositors wiped
the sweat from their foreheads and called for water. The thing that was
keeping us back, whatever it was, would not come off, though the _loo_
dropped and the last type was set, and the whole round earth stood still
in the choking heat, with its finger on its lip, to wait the event. I
drowsed, and wondered whether the telegraph was a blessing, and whether
this dying man, or struggling people was aware of the inconvenience the
delay was causing. There was no special reason beyond the heat and worry
to make tension, but, as the clock hands crept up to three o'clock and the
machines spun their fly-wheels two and three times to see that all was in
order, before I said the word that would set them off, I could have
Then the roar and rattle of the wheels shivered the quiet into little
bits. I rose to go away, but two men in white clothes stood in front of
me. The first one said:--"It's him!" The second said:--"So it is!" And
they both laughed almost as loudly as the machinery roared, and mopped
their foreheads. "We see there was a light burning across the road and we
were sleeping in that ditch there for coolness, and I said to my friend
here, The office is open. Let's come along and speak to him as turned us
back from the Degumber State," said the smaller of the two. He was the man
I had met in the Mhow train, and his fellow was the red-bearded man of
Marwar Junction. There was no mistaking the eyebrows of the one or the
beard of the other.
I was not pleased, because I wished to go to sleep, not to squabble with
loafers. "What do you want?" I asked.
"Half an hour's talk with you cool and comfortable, in the office," said
the red-bearded man. "We'd _like_ some drink--the Contrack doesn't begin
yet, Peachey, so you needn't look--but what we really want is advice. We
don't want money. We ask you as a favor, because you did us a bad turn
I led from the press-room to the stifling office with the maps on the
walls, and the red-haired man rubbed his hands. "That's something like,"
said he, "This was the proper shop to come to. Now, Sir, let me introduce
to you Brother Peachey Carnehan, that's him, and Brother Daniel Dravot,
that is _me_, and the less said about our professions the better, for we
have been most things in our time. Soldier, sailor, compositor,
photographer, proof-reader, street-preacher, and correspondents of the
_Backwoodsman_ when we thought the paper wanted one. Carnehan is sober,
and so am I. Look at us first and see that's sure. It will save you
cutting into my talk. We'll take one of your cigars apiece, and you shall
see us light."
I watched the test. The men were absolutely sober, so I gave them each a
"Well _and_ good," said Carnehan of the eyebrows, wiping the froth from
his moustache. "Let me talk now, Dan, We have been all over India, mostly
on foot. We have been boiler-fitters, engine-drivers, petty contractors,
and all that, and we have decided that India isn't big enough for such as
They certainly were too big for the office. Dravot's beard seemed to fill
half the room and Carnehan's shoulders the other half, as they sat on the
big table. Carnehan continued:--"The country isn't half worked out because
they that governs it won't let you touch it. They spend all their blessed
time in governing it, and you can't lift a spade, nor chip a rock, nor
look for oil, nor anything like that without all the Government
saying--'Leave it alone and let us govern.' Therefore, such as it is, we
will let it alone, and go away to some other place where a man isn't
crowded and can come to his own. We are not little men, and there is
nothing that we are afraid of except Drink, and we have signed a Contrack
on that. _Therefore_, we are going away to be Kings."
"Kings in our own right," muttered Dravot.
"Yes, of course," I said. "You've been tramping in the sun, and it's a
very warm night, and hadn't you better sleep over the notion? Come
"Neither drunk nor sunstruck," said Dravot. "We have slept over the notion
half a year, and require to see Books and Atlases, and we have decided
that there is only one place now in the world that two strong men can
Sar-a-_whack_. They call it Kafiristan. By my reckoning it's the top
right-hand corner of Afghanistan, not more than three hundred miles from
Peshawur. They have two and thirty heathen idols there, and we'll be the
thirty-third. It's a mountaineous country, and the women of those parts
are very beautiful."
"But that is provided against in the Contrack," said Carnehan. "Neither
Women nor Liquor, Daniel."
"And that's all we know, except that no one has gone there, and they
fight, and in any place where they fight a man who knows how to drill men
can always be a King. We shall go to those parts and say to any King we
find--'D'you want to vanquish your foes?' and we will show him how to
drill men; for that we know better than anything else. Then we will
subvert that King and seize his Throne and establish a Dy-nasty."
"You'll be cut to pieces before you're fifty miles across the Border," I
said. "You have to travel through Afghanistan to get to that country. It's
one mass of mountains and peaks and glaciers, and no Englishman has been
through it. The people are utter brutes, and even if you reached them you
couldn't do anything."
"That's more like," said Carnehan. "If you could think us a little more
mad we would be more pleased. We have come to you to know about this
country, to read a book about it, and to be shown maps. We want you to
tell us that we are fools and to show us your books." He turned to the
"Are you at all in earnest?" I said.
"A little," said Dravot, sweetly. "As big a map as you have got, even if
it's all blank where Kafiristan is, and any books you've got. We can read,
though we aren't very educated."
I uncased the big thirty-two-miles-to-the-inch map of India, and two
smaller Frontier maps, hauled down volume INF-KAN of the _Encyclopaedia
Britannica_, and the men consulted them.
"See here!" said Dravot, his thumb on the map. "Up to Jagdallak, Peachey
and me know the road. We was there with Roberts's Army. We'll have to turn
off to the right at Jagdallak through Laghmann territory. Then we get
among the hills--fourteen thousand feet--fifteen thousand--it will be cold
work there, but it don't look very far on the map."
I handed him Wood on the _Sources of the Oxus_. Carnehan was deep in the
"They're a mixed lot," said Dravot, reflectively; "and it won't help us to
know the names of their tribes. The more tribes the more they'll fight,
and the better for us. From Jagdallak to Ashang. H'mm!"
"But all the information about the country is as sketchy and inaccurate as
can be," I protested. "No one knows anything about it really. Here's the
file of the _United Services Institute_. Read what Bellew says."
"Blow Bellew!" said Carnehan. "Dan, they're an all-fired lot of heathens,
but this book here says they think they're related to us English."
I smoked while the men pored over _Raverty_, _Wood_, the maps and the
"There is no use your waiting," said Dravot, politely, "It's about four
o'clock now. We'll go before six o'clock if you want to sleep, and we
won't steal any of the papers. Don't you sit up. We're two harmless
lunatics, and if you come, to-morrow evening, down to the Serai we'll say
good-bye to you."
"You _are_ two fools," I answered, "You'll be turned back at the Frontier
or cut up the minute you set foot in Afghanistan. Do you want any money or
a recommendation down-country? I can help you to the chance of work next
"Next week we shall be hard at work ourselves, thank you," said Dravot.
"It isn't so easy being a King as it looks. When we've got our Kingdom in
going order we'll let you know, and you can come up and help us to govern
"Would two lunatics make a Contrack like that?" said Carnehan, with
subdued pride, showing me a greasy half-sheet of note-paper on which was
written the following. I copied it, then and there, as a curiosity:
_This Contract between me and you persuing witnesseth in the name of
God--Amen and so forth.
(One) That me and you will settle this matter together: _i.e._,
to be Kings of Kafiristan.
(Two) That you and me will not, while this matter is being settled,
look at any Liquor, nor any Woman, black, white or brown, so
as to get mixed up with one or the other harmful.
(Three) That we conduct ourselves with dignity and discretion, and
if one of us gets into trouble the other will stay by him.
Signed by you and me this day.
Peachey Taliaferro Carnehan.
Both Gentlemen at Large._
"There was no need for the last article," said Carnehan, blushing
modestly; "but it looks regular. Now you know the sort of men that loafers
are--we _are_ loafers, Dan, until we get out of India--and _do_ you think
that we would sign a Contrack like that unless we was in earnest? We have
kept away from the two things that make life worth having."
"You won't enjoy your lives much longer if you are going to try this
idiotic adventure. Don't set the office on fire," I said, "and go away
before nine o'clock."
I left them still poring over the maps and making notes on the back of the
"Contrack." "Be sure to come down to the Serai to-morrow," were their
The Kumharsen Serai is the great four-square sink of humanity where the
strings of camels and horses from the North load and unload. All the
nationalities of Central Asia may be found there, and most of the folk of
India proper. Balkh and Bokhara there meet Bengal and Bombay, and try to
draw eye-teeth. You can buy ponies, turquoises, Persian pussy-cats,
saddle-bags, fat-tailed sheep and musk in the Kumharsen Serai, and get
many strange things for nothing. In the afternoon I went down there to see
whether my friends intended to keep their word or were lying about drunk.
A priest attired in fragments of ribbons and rags stalked up to me,
gravely twisting a child's paper whirligig. Behind him was his servant
bending under the load of a crate of mud toys, The two were loading up two
camels, and the inhabitants of the Serai watched them with shrieks of
"The priest is mad," said a horse-dealer to me, "He is going up to Kabul
to sell toys to the Amir. He will either be raised to honor or have his
head cut off. He came in here this morning and has been behaving madly
"The witless are under the protection of God," stammered a flat-cheeked
Usbeg in broken Hindi. "They foretell future events."
"Would they could have foretold that my caravan would have been cut up by
the Shinwaris almost within shadow of the Pass!" grunted the Eusufzai
agent of a Rajputana trading-house whose goods had been feloniously
diverted into the hands of other robbers just across the Border, and whose
misfortunes were the laughing-stock of the bazar. "Ohe, priest, whence
come you and whither do you go?"
"From Roum have I come," shouted the priest, waving his whirligig; "from
Roum, blown by the breath of a hundred devils across the sea! O thieves,
robbers, liars, the blessing of Pir Khan on pigs, dogs, and perjurers! Who
will take the Protected of God to the North to sell charms that are never
still to the Amir? The camels shall not gall, the sons shall not fall
sick, and the wives shall remain faithful while they are away, of the men
who give me place in their caravan. Who will assist me to slipper the King
of the Roos with a golden slipper with a silver heel? The protection of
Pir Khan be upon his labors!" He spread out the skirts of his gaberdine
and pirouetted between the lines of tethered horses.
"There starts a caravan from Peshawur to Kabul in twenty days, _Huzrut_,"
said the Eusufzai trader, "My camels go therewith. Do thou also go and
bring us good luck."
"I will go even now!" shouted the priest, "I will depart upon my winged
camels, and be at Peshawur in a day! Ho! Hazar Mir Khan," he yelled to his
servant, "drive out the camels, but let me first mount my own."
He leaped on the back of his beast as it knelt, and, turning round to me,
cried:--"Come thou also, Sahib, a little along the road, and I will sell
thee a charm--an amulet that shall make thee King of Kafiristan."
Then the light broke upon me, and I followed the two camels out of the
Serai till we reached open road and the priest halted.
"What d' you think o' that?" said he in English. "Carnehan can't talk
their patter, so I've made him my servant. He makes a handsome servant,
'Tisn't for nothing that I've been knocking about the country for fourteen
years. Didn't I do that talk neat? We'll hitch on to a caravan at Peshawur
till we get to Jagdallak, and then we'll see if we can get donkeys for our
camels, and strike into Kafiristan. Whirligigs for the Amir, O Lor! Put
your hand under the camel-bags and tell me what you feel."
I felt the butt of a Martini, and another and another.
"Twenty of 'em," said Dravot, placidly. "Twenty of 'em, and ammunition to
correspond, under the whirligigs and the mud dolls."
"Heaven help you if you are caught with those things!" I said. "A Martini
is worth her weight in silver among the Pathans."
"Fifteen hundred rupees of capital--every rupee we could beg, borrow, or
steal--are invested on these two camels," said Dravot. "We won't get
caught. We're going through the Khaiber with a regular caravan. Who'd
touch a poor mad priest?"
"Have you got everything you want?" I asked, overcome with astonishment.
"Not yet, but we shall soon. Give us a memento of your kindness,
_Brother_. You did me a service yesterday, and that time in Marwar. Half
my Kingdom shall you have, as the saying is." I slipped a small charm
compass from my watch-chain and handed it up to the priest.
"Good-bye," said Dravot, giving me hand cautiously. "It's the last time
we'll shake hands with an Englishman these many days. Shake hands with
him, Carnehan," he cried, as the second camel passed me.
Carnehan leaned down and shook hands. Then the camels passed away along
the dusty road, and I was left alone to wonder. My eye could detect no
failure in the disguises. The scene in Serai attested that they were
complete to the native mind. There was just the chance, therefore, that
Carnehan and Dravot would be able to wander through Afghanistan without
detection. But, beyond, they would find death, certain and awful death.
Ten days later a native friend of mine, giving me the news of the day from
Peshawur, wound up his letter with:--"There has been much laughter here on
account of a certain mad priest who is going in his estimation to sell
petty gauds and insignificant trinkets which he ascribes as great charms
to H.H. the Amir of Bokhara. He passed through Peshawur and associated
himself to the Second Summer caravan that goes to Kabul. The merchants are
pleased because through superstition they imagine that such mad fellows
The two, then, were beyond the Border. I would have prayed for them, but,
that night, a real King died in Europe, and demanded on obituary notice.
The wheel of the world swings through the same phases again and again.
Summer passed and winter thereafter, and came and passed again. The daily
paper continued and I with it, and upon the third summer there fell a hot
night, a night-issue, and a strained waiting for something to be
telegraphed from the other side of the world, exactly as had happened
before. A few great men had died in the past two years, the machines
worked with more clatter, and some of the trees in the Office garden were
a few feet taller. But that was all the difference.
I passed over to the press-room, and went through just such a scene as I
have already described. The nervous tension was stronger than it had been
two years before, and I felt the heat more acutely. At three o'clock I
cried, "Print off," and turned to go, when there crept to my chair what
was left of a man. He was bent into a circle, his head was sunk between
his shoulders, and he moved his feet one over the other like a bear. I
could hardly see whether he walked or crawled--this rag-wrapped, whining
cripple who addressed me by name, crying that he was come back. "Can you
give me a drink?" he whimpered. "For the Lord's sake, give me a drink!"
I went back to the office, the man following with groans of pain, and I
turned up the lamp.
"Don't you know me?" he gasped, dropping into a chair, and he turned his
drawn face, surmounted by a shock of grey hair, to the light.
I looked at him intently. Once before had I seen eyebrows that met over
the nose in an inch-broad black band, but for the life of me I could not
"I don't know you," I said, handing him the whiskey. "What can I do for
He took a gulp of the spirit raw, and shivered in spite of the suffocating
"I've come back," he repeated; "and I was the King of Kafiristan--me and
Dravot--crowned Kings we was! In this office we settled it--you setting
there and giving us the books. I am Peachey--Peachey Taliaferro Carnehan,
and you've been setting here ever since--O Lord!"
I was more than a little astonished, and expressed my feelings
"It's true," said Carnehan, with a dry cackle, nursing his feet, which
were wrapped in rags. "True as gospel. Kings we were, with crowns upon our
heads--me and Dravot--poor Dan--oh, poor, poor Dan, that would never take
advice, not though I begged of him!"
"Take the whiskey," I said, "and take your own time. Tell me all you can
recollect of everything from beginning to end. You got across the border
on your camels, Dravot dressed as a mad priest and you his servant. Do you
"I ain't mad--yet, but I shall be that way soon. Of course I remember.
Keep looking at me, or maybe my words will go all to pieces. Keep looking
at me in my eyes and don't say anything."
I leaned forward and looked into his face as steadily as I could. He
dropped one hand upon the table and I grasped it by the wrist. It was
twisted like a bird's claw, and upon the back was a ragged, red,
"No, don't look there. Look at _me_," said Carnehan.
"That comes afterward, but for the Lord's sake don't distrack me. We left
with that caravan, me and Dravot playing all sorts of antics to amuse the
people we were with. Dravot used to make us laugh in the evenings when all
the people was cooking their dinners--cooking their dinners, and ... what
did they do then? They lit little fires with sparks that went into
Dravot's beard, and we all laughed--fit to die. Little red fires they was,
going into Dravot's big red beard--so funny." His eyes left mine and he
"You went as far as Jagdallak with that caravan," I said, at a venture,
"after you had lit those fires. To Jagdallak, where you turned off to try
to get into Kafiristan."
"No, we didn't neither. What are you talking about? We turned off before
Jagdallak, because we heard the roads was good. But they wasn't good
enough for our two camels--mine and Dravot's. When we left the caravan,
Dravot took off all his clothes and mine too, and said we would be
heathen, because the Kafirs didn't allow Mohammedans to talk to them. So
we dressed betwixt and between, and such a sight as Daniel Dravot I never
saw yet nor expect to see again. He burned half his beard, and slung a
sheep-skin over his shoulder, and shaved his head into patterns. He shaved
mine, too, and made me wear outrageous things to look like a heathen. That
was in a most mountaineous country, and our camels couldn't go along any
more because of the mountains. They were tall and black, and coming home I
saw them fight like wild goats--there are lots of goats in Kafiristan. And
these mountains, they never keep still, no more than the goats. Always
fighting they are, and don't let you sleep at night."
"Take some more whiskey," I said, very slowly. "What did you and Daniel
Dravot do when the camels could go no further because of the rough roads
that led into Kafiristan?"
"What did which do? There was a party called Peachey Taliaferro Carnehan
that was with Dravot. Shall I tell you about him? He died out there in the
cold. Slap from the bridge fell old Peachey, turning and twisting in the
air like a penny whirligig that you can sell to the Amir.--No; they was
two for three ha'pence, those whirligigs, or I am much mistaken and woful
sore. And then these camels were no use, and Peachey said to Dravot--'For
the Lord's sake, let's get out of this before our heads are chopped off,'
and with that they killed the camels all among the mountains, not having
anything in particular to eat, but first they took off the boxes with the
guns and the ammunition, till two men came along driving four mules.
Dravot up and dances in front of them, singing,--'Sell me four Mules.'
Says the first man,--'If you are rich enough to buy, you are rich enough
to rob;' but before ever he could put his hand to his knife, Dravot breaks
his neck over his knee, and the other party runs away. So Carnehan loaded
the mules with the rifles that was taken off the camels, and together we
starts forward into those bitter cold mountaineous parts, and never a road
broader than the back of your hand."
He paused for a moment, while I asked him if he could remember the nature
of the country through which he had journeyed.
"I am telling you as straight as I can, but my head isn't as good as it
might be. They drove nails through it to make me hear better how Dravot
died. The country was mountaineous and the mules were most contrary, and
the inhabitants was dispersed and solitary. They went up and up, and down
and down, and that other party, Carnehan, was imploring of Dravot not to
sing and whistle so loud, for fear of bringing down the tremenjus
avalanches. But Dravot says that if a King couldn't sing it wasn't worth
being King, and whacked the mules over the rump, and never took no heed
for ten cold days. We came to a big level valley all among the mountains,
and the mules were near dead, so we killed them, not having anything in
special for them or us to eat. We sat upon the boxes, and played odd and
even with the cartridges that was jolted out,
"Then ten men with bows and arrows ran down that valley, chasing twenty
men with bows and arrows, and the row was tremenjus. They was fair
men--fairer than you or me--with yellow hair and remarkable well built.
Says Dravot, unpacking the guns--'This is the beginning of the business.
We'll fight for the ten men,' and with that he fires two rifles at the
twenty men, and drops one of them at two hundred yards from the rock where
we was sitting. The other men began to run, but Carnehan and Dravot sits
on the boxes picking them off at all ranges, up and down the valley. Then
we goes up to the ten men that had run across the snow too, and they fires
a footy little arrow at us. Dravot he shoots above their heads and they
all falls down flat. Then he walks over them and kicks them, and then he
lifts them up and shakes hands all round to make them friendly like. He
calls them and gives them the boxes to carry, and waves his hand for all
the world as though he was King already. They takes the boxes and him
across the valley and up the hill into a pine wood on the top, where there
was half a dozen big stone idols. Dravot he goes to the biggest--a fellow
they call Imbra--and lays a rifle and a cartridge at his feet, rubbing his
nose respectful with his own nose, patting him on the head, and saluting
in front of it. He turns round to the men and nods his head, and
says,--'That's all right. I'm in the know too, and all these old jim-jams
are my friends.' Then he opens his mouth and points down it, and when the
first man brings him food, he says--'No;' and when the second man brings
him food, he says--'No;' but when one of the old priests and the boss of
the village brings him food, he says--'Yes;' very haughty, and eats it
slow. That was how we came to our first village, without any trouble, just
as though we had tumbled from the skies. But we tumbled from one of those
damned rope-bridges, you see, and you couldn't expect a man to laugh much
"Take some more whiskey and go on," I said. "That was the first village
you came into. How did you get to be King?"
"I wasn't King," said Carnehan. "Dravot he was the King, and a handsome
man he looked with the gold crown on his head and all. Him and the other
party stayed in that village, and every morning Dravot sat by the side of
old Imbra, and the people came and worshipped. That was Dravot's order.
Then a lot of men came into the valley, and Carnehan and Dravot picks them
off with the rifles before they knew where they was, and runs down into
the valley and up again the other side, and finds another village, same as
the first one, and the people all falls down flat on their faces, and
Dravot says, 'Now what is the trouble between you two villages?' and the
people points to a woman, as fair as you or me, that was carried off, and
Dravot takes her back to the first village and counts up the dead--eight
there was. For each dead man Dravot pours a little milk on the ground and
waves his arms like a whirligig and 'That's all right,' says he. Then he
and Carnehan takes the big boss of each village by the arm and walks them
down into the valley, and shows them how to scratch a line with a spear
right down the valley, and gives each a sod of turf from both sides o' the
line. Then all the people comes down and shouts like the devil and all,
and Dravot says,--'Go and dig the land, and be fruitful and multiply,'
which they did, though they didn't understand. Then we asks the names of
things in their lingo--bread and water and fire and idols and such, and
Dravot leads the priest of each village up to the idol, and says he must
sit there and judge the people, and if anything goes wrong he is to be
"Next week they was all turning up the land in the valley as quiet as bees
and much prettier, and the priests heard all the complaints and told
Dravot in dumb show what it was about. 'That's just the beginning,' says
Dravot. 'They think we're Gods.' He and Carnehan picks out twenty good men
and shows them how to click off a rifle, and form fours, and advance in
line, and they was very pleased to do so, and clever to see the hang of
it. Then he takes out his pipe and his baccy-pouch and leaves one at one
village and one at the other, and off we two goes to see what was to be
done in the next valley. That was all rock, and there was a little village
there, and Carnehan says,--'Send 'em to the old valley to plant,' and
takes 'em there and gives 'em some land that wasn't took before. They were
a poor lot, and we blooded 'em with a kid before letting 'em into the new
Kingdom. That was to impress the people, and then they settled down quiet,
and Carnehan went back to Dravot who had got into another valley, all snow
and ice and most mountaineous. There was no people there and the Army got
afraid, so Dravot shoots one of them, and goes on till he finds some
people in a village, and the Army explains that unless the people wants to
be killed they had better not shoot their little matchlocks; for they had
matchlocks. We makes friends with the priest and I stays there alone with
two of the Army, teaching the men how to drill, and a thundering big Chief
comes across the snow with kettle-drums and horns twanging, because he
heard there was a new God kicking about. Carnehan sights for the brown of
the men half a mile across the snow and wings one of them. Then he sends a
message to the Chief that, unless he wished to be killed, he must come and
shake hands with me and leave his arms behind. The chief comes alone
first, and Carnehan shakes hands with him and whirls his arms about, same
as Dravot used, and very much surprised that Chief was, and strokes my
eyebrows. Then Carnehan goes alone to the Chief, and asks him in dumb show
if he had an enemy he hated. 'I have,' says the Chief. So Carnehan weeds
out the pick of his men, and sets the two of the Army to show them drill
and at the end of two weeks the men can manoeuvre about as well as
Volunteers. So he marches with the Chief to a great big plain on the top
of a mountain, and the Chief's men rushes into a village and takes it; we
three Martinis firing into the brown of the enemy. So we took that village
too, and I gives the Chief a rag from my coat and says, 'Occupy till I
come:' which was scriptural. By way of a reminder, when me and the Army
was eighteen hundred yards away, I drops a bullet near him standing on the
snow, and all the people falls flat on their faces. Then I sends a letter
to Dravot, wherever he be by land or by sea."
At the risk of throwing the creature out of train I interrupted,--"How
could you write a letter up yonder?"
"The letter?--Oh!--The letter! Keep looking at me between the eyes,
please. It was a string-talk letter, that we'd learned the way of it from
a blind beggar in the Punjab."
I remember that there had once come to the office a blind man with a
knotted twig and a piece of string which he wound round the twig according
to some cypher of his own. He could, after the lapse of days or hours,
repeat the sentence which he had reeled up. He had reduced the alphabet to
eleven primitive sounds; and tried to teach me his method, but failed.
"I sent that letter to Dravot," said Carnehan; "and told him to come back
because this Kingdom was growing too big for me to handle, and then I
struck for the first valley, to see how the priests were working. They
called the village we took along with the Chief, Bashkai, and the first
village we took, Er-Heb. The priests at Er-Heb was doing all right, but
they had a lot of pending cases about land to show me, and some men from
another village had been firing arrows at night. I went out and looked for
that village and fired four rounds at it from a thousand yards. That used
all the cartridges I cared to spend, and I waited for Dravot, who had been
away two or three months, and I kept my people quiet.
"One morning I heard the devil's own noise of drums and horns, and Dan
Dravot marches down the hill with his Army and a tail of hundreds of men,
and, which was the most amazing--a great gold crown on his head. 'My Gord,
Carnehan,' says Daniel, 'this is a tremenjus business, and we've got the
whole country as far as it's worth having. I am the son of Alexander by
Queen Semiramis, and you're my younger brother and a God too! It's the
biggest thing we've ever seen. I've been marching and fighting for six
weeks with the Army, and every footy little village for fifty miles has
come in rejoiceful; and more than that, I've got the key of the whole
show, as you'll see, and I've got a crown for you! I told 'em to make two
of 'em at a place called Shu, where the gold lies in the rock like suet in
mutton. Gold I've seen, and turquoise I've kicked out of the cliffs, and
there's garnets in the sands of the river, and here's a chunk of amber
that a man brought me. Call up all the priests and, here, take your
"One of the men opens a black hair bag and I slips the crown on. It was
too small and too heavy, but I wore it for the glory. Hammered gold it
was--five pound weight, like a hoop of a barrel.
"'Peachey,' says Dravot, 'we don't want to fight no more. The Craft's the
trick so help me!' and he brings forward that same Chief that I left at
Bashkai--Billy Fish we called him afterward, because he was so like Billy
Fish that drove the big tank-engine at Mach on the Bolan in the old days.
'Shake hands with him,' says Dravot, and I shook hands and nearly dropped,
for Billy Fish gave me the Grip. I said nothing, but tried him with the
Fellow Craft Grip. He answers, all right, and I tried the Master's Grip,
but that was a slip. 'A Fellow Craft he is!' I says to Dan. 'Does he know
the word?' 'He does,' says Dan, 'and all the priests know. It's a miracle!
The Chiefs and the priests can work a Fellow Craft Lodge in a way that's
very like ours, and they've cut the marks on the rocks, but they don't
know the Third Degree, and they've come to find out. It's Gord's Truth.
I've known these long years that the Afghans knew up to the Fellow Craft
Degree, but this is a miracle. A God and a Grand-Master of the Craft am I,
and a Lodge in the Third Degree I will open, and we'll raise the head
priests and the Chiefs of the villages.'
"'It's against all the law,' I says, 'holding a Lodge without warrant from
any one; and we never held office in any Lodge.'
"'It's a master-stroke of policy,' says Dravot. 'It means running the
country as easy as a four-wheeled bogy on a down grade. We can't stop to
inquire now, or they'll turn against us. I've forty Chiefs at my heel, and
passed and raised according to their merit they shall be. Billet these men
on the villages and see that we run up a Lodge of some kind. The temple of
Imbra will do for the Lodge-room. The women must make aprons as you show
them. I'll hold a levee of Chiefs to-night and Lodge to-morrow.'
"I was fair run off my legs, but I wasn't such a fool as not to see what a
pull this Craft business gave us. I showed the priests' families how to
make aprons of the degrees, but for Dravot's apron, the blue border and
marks was made of turquoise lumps on white hide, not cloth. We took a
great square stone in the temple for the Master's chair, and little stones
for the officers' chairs, and painted the black pavement with white
squares, and did what we could to make things regular.
"At the levee which was held that night on the hillside with big bonfires,
Dravot gives out that him and me were Gods and sons of Alexander, and Past
Grand-Masters in the Craft, and was come to make Kafiristan a country
where every man should eat in peace and drink in quiet, and specially obey
us. Then the Chiefs come round to shake hands, and they was so hairy and
white and fair it was just shaking hands with old friends. We gave them
names according as they was like men we had known in India--Billy Fish,
Holly Dilworth, Pikky Kergan that was Bazar-master when I was at Mhow, and
so on and so on.
"_The_ most amazing miracle was at Lodge next night. One of the old
priests was watching us continuous, and I felt uneasy, for I knew we'd
have to fudge the Ritual, and I didn't know what the men knew. The old
priest was a stranger come in from beyond the village of Bashkai. The
minute Dravot puts on the Master's apron that the girls had made for him,
the priest fetches a whoop and a howl, and tries to overturn the stone
that Dravot was sitting on. 'It's all up now,' I says. 'That comes of
meddling with the Craft without warrant!' Dravot never winked an eye, not
when ten priests took and tilted over the Grand-Master's chair--which was
to say the stone of Imbra. The priest begins rubbing the bottom end of it
to clear away the black dirt, and presently he shows all the other priests
the Master's Mark, same as was on Dravot's apron, cut into the stone. Not
even the priests of the temple of Imbra knew it was there. The old chap
falls flat on his face at Dravot's feet and kisses 'em. 'Luck again,' says
Dravot, across the Lodge to me, 'they say it's the missing Mark that no
one could understand the why of. We're more than safe now.' Then he bangs
the butt of his gun for a gavel and says:--'By virtue of the authority
vested in me by my own right hand and the help of Peachey, I declare
myself Grand-Master of all Freemasonry in Kafiristan in this the Mother
Lodge o' the country, and King of Kafiristan equally with Peachey!' At
that he puts on his crown and I puts on mine--I was doing Senior
Warden--and we opens the Lodge in most ample form. It was a amazing
miracle! The priests moved in Lodge through the first two degrees almost
without telling, as if the memory was coming back to them. After that,
Peachey and Dravot raised such as was worthy--high priests and Chiefs of
far-off villages. Billy Fish was the first, and I can tell you we scared
the soul out of him. It was not in any way according to Ritual, but it
served our turn. We didn't raise more than ten of the biggest men because
we didn't want to make the Degree common. And they was clamoring to be
"'In another six months,' says Dravot, 'we'll hold another Communication
and see how you are working.' Then he asks them about their villages, and
learns that they was fighting one against the other and were fair sick and
tired of it. And when they wasn't doing that they was fighting with the
Mohammedans. 'You can fight those when they come into our country,' says
Dravot. 'Tell off every tenth man of your tribes for a Frontier guard, and
send two hundred at a time to this valley to be drilled. Nobody is going
to be shot or speared any more so long as he does well, and I know that
you won't cheat me because you're white people--sons of Alexander--and not
like common, black Mohammedans. You are _my_ people and by God,' says he,
running off into English at the end--'I'll make a damned fine Nation of
you, or I'll die in the making!'
"I can't tell all we did for the next six months because Dravot did a lot
I couldn't see the hang of, and he learned their lingo in a way I never
could. My work was to help the people plough, and now and again go out
with some of the Army and see what the other villages were doing, and make
'em throw rope-bridges across the ravines which cut up the country horrid.
Dravot was very kind to me, but when he walked up and down in the pine
wood pulling that bloody red beard of his with both fists I knew he was
thinking plans I could not advise him about, and I just waited for orders.
"But Dravot never showed me disrespect before the people. They were afraid
of me and the Army, but they loved Dan. He was the best of friends with
the priests and the Chiefs; but any one could come across the hills with a
complaint and Dravot would hear him out fair, and call four priests
together and say what was to be done. He used to call in Billy Fish from
Bashkai, and Pikky Kergan from Shu, and an old Chief we called
Kafuzelum--it was like enough to his real name--and hold councils with 'em
when there was any fighting to be done in small villages. That was his
Council of War, and the four priests of Bashkai, Shu, Khawak, and Madora
was his Privy Council. Between the lot of 'em they sent me, with forty men
and twenty rifles, and sixty men carrying turquoises, into the Ghorband
country to buy those hand-made Martini rifles, that come out of the Amir's
workshops at Kabul, from one of the Amir's Herati regiments that would
have sold the very teeth out of their mouths for turquoises.
"I stayed in Ghorband a month, and gave the Governor there the pick of my
baskets for hush-money, and bribed the Colonel of the regiment some more,
and, between the two and the tribespeople, we got more than a hundred
hand-made Martinis, a hundred good Kohat Jezails that'll throw to six
hundred yards, and forty man-loads of very bad ammunition for the rifles.
I came back with what I had, and distributed 'em among the men that the
Chiefs sent to me to drill. Dravot was too busy to attend to those things,
but the old Army that we first made helped me, and we turned out five
hundred men that could drill, and two hundred that knew how to hold arms