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Kim by Rudyard Kipling

Part 2 out of 7

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'Come. He does no hurt.'

Kim hesitated for a moment. The lama backed his order by some
droned Chinese quotation which Kim took for a charm. He obeyed
and bounded across the rivulet, and the snake, indeed, made no
sign.

'Never have I seen such a man.' Kim wiped the sweat from his
forehead. 'And now, whither go we?'

'That is for thee to say. I am old, and a stranger - far from my
own place. But that the rail-carriage fills my head with noises of
devil-drums I would go in it to Benares now ... Yet by so going
we may miss the River. Let us find another river.'

Where the hard-worked soil gives three and even four crops a year
through patches of sugar-cane, tobacco, long white radishes,
and nol-kol, all that day they strolled on, turning aside to
every glimpse of water; rousing village dogs and sleeping
villages at noonday; the lama replying to the volleyed questions
with an unswerving simplicity. They sought a River: a River of
miraculous healing. Had any one knowledge of such a stream?

Sometimes men laughed, but more often heard the story out to the
end and offered them a place in the shade, a drink of milk, and a
meal. The women were always kind, and the little children as
children are the world over, alternately shy and venturesome.

Evening found them at rest under the village tree of a mud-walled, mud-roofed hamlet, talking to
the headman as the cattle
came in from the grazing-grounds and the women prepared the day's
last meal. They had passed beyond the belt of market-gardens
round hungry Umballa, and were among the mile-wide green of the
staple crops.

He was a white-bearded and affable elder, used to entertaining
strangers. He dragged out a string bedstead for the lama, set
warm cooked food before him, prepared him a pipe, and, the
evening ceremonies being finished in the village temple, sent for
the village priest.

Kim told the older children tales of the size and beauty of
Lahore, of railway travel, and such-like city things, while the
men talked, slowly as their cattle chew the cud.

'I cannot fathom it,' said the headman at last to the priest.
'How readest thou this talk?' The lama, his tale told, was
silently telling his beads.

'He is a Seeker.' the priest answered. 'The land is full of such.
Remember him who came only last, month - the fakir with the
tortoise?'

'Ay, but that man had right and reason, for Krishna Himself
appeared in a vision promising him Paradise without the burning-
pyre if he journeyed to Prayag. This man seeks no God who is
within my knowledge.'

'Peace, he is old: he comes from far off, and he is mad,' the
smooth-shaven priest replied. 'Hear me.' He turned to the lama.
'Three koss [six miles] to the westward runs the great road to
Calcutta.'

'But I would go to Benares - to Benares.'

'And to Benares also. It crosses all streams on this side of
Hind. Now my word to thee, Holy One, is rest here till tomorrow.
Then take the road' (it was the Grand Trunk Road he meant) 'and
test each stream that it overpasses; for, as I understand, the
virtue of thy River lies neither in one pool nor place, but
throughout its length. Then, if thy Gods will, be assured that
thou wilt come upon thy freedom.'

'That is well said.' The lama was much impressed by the plan. 'We
will begin tomorrow, and a blessing on thee for showing old feet
such a near road.' A deep, sing-song Chinese half-chant closed
the sentence. Even the priest was impressed, and the headman
feared an evil spell: but none could look at the lama's simple,
eager face and doubt him long.

'Seest thou my chela?' he said, diving into his snuff-gourd with
an important sniff. It was his duty to repay courtesy with
courtesy.

'I see - and hear.' The headman rolled his eye where Kim was
chatting to a girl in blue as she laid crackling thorns on a
fire.

'He also has a Search of his own. No river, but a Bull. Yea, a
Red Bull on a green field will some day raise him to honour. He
is, I think, not altogether of this world. He was sent of a
sudden to aid me in this search, and his name is Friend of all
the World.'

The priest smiled. 'Ho, there, Friend of all the World,' he cried
across the sharp-smelling smoke, 'what art thou?'

'This Holy One's disciple,' said Kim.

'He says thou are a but [a spirit].'

'Can buts eat?' said Kim, with a twinkle. 'For I am hungry.'

'It is no jest,' cried the lama. 'A certain astrologer of that city
whose name I have forgotten -'

'That is no more than the city of Umballa where we slept last
night,' Kim whispered to the priest.

'Ay, Umballa was it? He cast a horoscope and declared that my
chela should find his desire within two days. But what said he of
the meaning of the stars, Friend of all the World?'

Kim cleared his throat and looked around at the village
greybeards.

'The meaning of my Star is War,' he replied pompously.

Somebody laughed at the little tattered figure strutting on the
brickwork plinth under the great tree. Where a native would have
lain down, Kim's white blood set him upon his feet.

'Ay, War,' he answered.

'That is a sure prophecy,' rumbled a deep voice. 'For there is
always war along the Border - as I know.'

It was an old, withered man, who had served the Government in the
days of the Mutiny as a native officer in a newly raised cavalry
regiment. The Government had given him a good holding in the
village, and though the demands of his sons, now grey-bearded
officers on their own account, had impoverished him, he was still
a person of consequence. English officials - Deputy Commissioners
even - turned aside from the main road to visit him, and on those
occasions he dressed himself in the uniform of ancient days, and
stood up like a ramrod.

'But this shall be a great war - a war of eight thousand.' Kim's
voice shrilled across the quick-gathering crowd, astonishing
himself.

'Redcoats or our own regiments?' the old man snapped, as though
he were asking an equal. His tone made men respect Kim.

'Redcoats,' said Kim at a venture. 'Redcoats and guns.'

'But - but the astrologer said no word of this,' cried the lama,
snuffing prodigiously in his excitement.

'But I know. The word has come to me, who am this Holy One's
disciple. There will rise a war - a war of eight thousand redcoats.
From Pindi and Peshawur they will be drawn. This is
sure.'

'The boy has heard bazar-talk,' said the priest.

'But he was always by my side,' said the lama. 'How should he know?
I did not know.'

'He will make a clever juggler when the old man is dead,' muttered
the priest to the headman. 'What new trick is this?'

'A sign. Give me a sign,' thundered the old soldier suddenly. 'If
there were war my sons would have told me.'

'When all is ready, thy sons, doubt not, will be told. But it is a
long road from thy sons to the man in whose hands these things
lie.' Kim warmed to the game, for it reminded him of experiences
in the letter-carrying line, when, for the sake of a few pice, he
pretended to know more than he knew. But now he was playing for
larger things - the sheer excitement and the sense of power. He
drew a new breath and went on.

'Old man, give me a sign. Do underlings order the goings of eight
thousand redcoats - with guns?'

'No.' Still the old man answered as though Kim were an equal.

'Dost thou know who He is, then, that gives the order?'

'I have seen Him.'

'To know again?'

'I have known Him since he was a lieutenant in the topkhana (the
Artillery).'

'A tall man. A tall man with black hair, walking thus?' Kim took
a few paces in a stiff, wooden style.

'Ay. But that anyone may have seen.' The crowd were breathless -
still through all this talk.

'That is true,' said Kim. 'But I will say more. Look now. First
the great man walks thus. Then He thinks thus.' (Kim drew a
forefinger over his forehead and downwards till it came to rest
by the angle of the jaw.) 'Anon He twitches his fingers thus.
Anon He thrusts his hat under his left armpit.' Kim illustrated
the motion and stood like a stork.

The old man groaned, inarticulate with amazement; and the crowd
shivered.

'So - so - so. But what does He when He is about to give an order?'

'He rubs the skin at the back of his neck - thus. Then falls one
finger on the table and He makes a small sniffing noise through
his nose. Then He speaks, saying: "Loose such and such a regiment.
Call out such guns."'

The old man rose stiffly and saluted.

'"For"' - Kim translated into the vernacular the clinching
sentences he had heard in the dressing-room at Umballa - '"For,"
says He, "we should have done this long ago. It is not war - it is
a chastisement. Snff!"'

'Enough. I believe. I have seen Him thus in the smoke of battles.
Seen and heard. It is He!'

'I saw no smoke' - Kim's voice shifted to the rapt sing-song of the
wayside fortune-teller. 'I saw this in darkness. First came a man
to make things clear. Then came horsemen. Then came He standing in
a ring of light. The rest followed as I have said. Old man, have I
spoken truth?'

'It is He. Past all doubt it is He.'

The crowd drew a long, quavering breath, staring alternately at the
old man, still at attention, and ragged Kim against the purple
twilight.

'Said I not - said I not he was from the other world?' cried the
lama proudly. 'He is the Friend of all the World. He is the
Friend of the Stars!'

'At least it does not concern us,' a man cried. 'O thou young
soothsayer, if the gift abides with thee at all seasons, I have a
red-spotted cow. She may be sister to thy Bull for aught I know -'

'Or I care,' said Kim. 'My Stars do not concern themselves with thy
cattle.'

'Nay, but she is very sick,' a woman struck in. 'My man is a
buffalo, or he would have chosen his words better. Tell me if she
recover?'

Had Kim been at all an ordinary boy, he would have carried on the
play; but one does not know Lahore city, and least of all the
fakirs by the Taksali Gate, for thirteen years without also knowing
human nature.

The priest looked at him sideways, something bitterly - a dry and
blighting smile.

'Is there no priest, then, in the village? I thought I had seen a
great one even now,' cried Kim.

'Ay - but -' the woman began.

'But thou and thy husband hoped to get the cow cured for a handful
of thanks.' The shot told: they were notoriously the closest-fisted
couple in the village. 'It is not well to cheat the temples. Give a
young calf to thine own priest, and, unless thy Gods are angry past
recall, she will give milk within a month.'

'A master-beggar art thou,' purred the priest approvingly. 'Not the
cunning of forty years could have done better. Surely thou hast
made the old man rich?'

'A little flour, a little butter and a mouthful of cardamoms,' Kim
retorted, flushed with the praise, but still cautious - 'Does one
grow rich on that? And, as thou canst see, he is mad. But it serves
me while I learn the road at least."

He knew what the fakirs of the Taksali Gate were like when they
talked among themselves, and copied the very inflection of their
lewd disciples.

'Is his Search, then, truth or a cloak to other ends? It may be
treasure.'

'He is mad - many times mad. There is nothing else.'

Here the old soldier bobbled up and asked if Kim would accept his
hospitality for the night. The priest recommended him to do so, but
insisted that the honour of entertaining the lama belonged to the
temple - at which the lama smiled guilelessly. Kim glanced from one
face to the other, and drew his own conclusions.

'Where is the money?' he whispered, beckoning the old man off into
the darkness.

'In my bosom. Where else?'

'Give it me. Quietly and swiftly give it me.'

'But why? Here is no ticket to buy.'

'Am I thy chela, or am I not? Do I not safeguard thy old feet about
the ways? Give me the money and at dawn I will return it.' He
slipped his hand above the lama's girdle and brought away the
purse.

'Be it so - be it so.' The old man nodded his head. 'This is a
great and terrible world. I never knew there were so many men alive
in it.'

Next morning the priest was in a very bad temper, but the lama was
quite happy; and Kim had enjoyed a most interesting evening with
the old man, who brought out his cavalry sabre and, balancing it on
his dry knees, told tales of the Mutiny and young captains thirty
years in their graves, till Kim dropped off to sleep.

'Certainly the air of this country is good,' said the lama. 'I
sleep lightly, as do all old men; but last night I slept unwaking
till broad day. Even now I am heavy.'

'Drink a draught of hot milk,' said Kim, who had carried not a few
such remedies to opium-smokers of his acquaintance. 'It is time to
take the Road again.'

'The long Road that overpasses all the rivers of Hind,' said the
lama gaily. 'Let us go. But how thinkest thou, chela, to recompense
these people, and especially the priest, for their great kindness?
Truly they are but parast, but in other lives, maybe, they will
receive enlightenment. A rupee to the temple? The thing within is
no more than stone and red paint, but the heart of man we must
acknowledge when and where it is good.'

'Holy One, hast thou ever taken the Road alone?' Kim looked up
sharply, like the Indian crows so busy about the fields.

'Surely, child: from Kulu to Pathankot - from Kulu, where my first
chela died. When men were kind to us we made offerings, and all men
were well-disposed throughout all the Hills.'

'It is otherwise in Hind,' said Kim drily. 'Their Gods are many-
armed and malignant. Let them alone.'

'I would set thee on thy road for a little, Friend of all the World,
thou and thy yellow man.' The old soldier ambled up the village
street, all shadowy in the dawn, on a punt, scissor-hocked pony.
'Last night broke up the fountains of remembrance in my so-dried
heart, and it was as a blessing to me. Truly there is war abroad in
the air. I smell it. See! I have brought my sword.'

He sat long-legged on the little beast, with the big sword at his
side - hand dropped on the pommel - staring fiercely over the flat
lands towards the North. 'Tell me again how He showed in thy
vision. Come up and sit behind me. The beast will carry two.'

'I am this Holy One's disciple,' said Kim, as they cleared the
village-gate. The villagers seemed almost sorry to be rid of them,
but the priest's farewell was cold and distant. He had wasted some
opium on a man who carried no money.

'That is well spoken. I am not much used to holy men, but respect
is always good. There is no respect in these days - not even when
a Commissioner Sahib comes to see me. But why should one whose
Star leads him to war follow a holy man?'

'But he is a holy man,' said Kim earnestly. 'In truth, and in talk
and in act, holy. He is not like the others. I have never seen such
an one. We be not fortune-tellers, or jugglers, or beggars.'

'Thou art not. That I can see. But I do not know that other. He
marches well, though.'

The first freshness of the day carried the lama forward with long,
easy, camel-like strides. He was deep in meditation, mechanically
clicking his rosary.

They followed the rutted and worn country road that wound across
the flat between the great dark-green mango-groves, the line of the
snowcapped Himalayas faint to the eastward. All India was at work
in the fields, to the creaking of well-wheels, the shouting of
ploughmen behind their cattle, and the clamour of the crows. Even
the pony felt the good influence and almost broke into a trot as
Kim laid a hand on the stirrup-leather.

'It repents me that I did not give a rupee to the shrine,' said the
lama on the last bead of his eighty-one.

The old soldier growled in his beard, so that the lama for the
first time was aware of him.

'Seekest thou the River also?' said he, turning.

'The day is new,' was the reply. 'What need of a river save to
water at before sundown? I come to show thee a short lane to the
Big Road.'

'That is a courtesy to be remembered, O man of good will. But why
the sword?'

The old soldier looked as abashed as a child interrupted in his
game of make-believe.

'The sword,' he said, fumbling it. 'Oh, that was a fancy of mine
an old man's fancy. Truly the police orders are that no man must
bear weapons throughout Hind, but' - he cheered up and slapped the
hilt - 'all the constabeels hereabout know me.'

'It is not a good fancy,' said the lama. 'What profit to kill men?'

'Very little - as I know; but if evil men were not now and then
slain it would not be a good world for weaponless dreamers. I do
not speak without knowledge who have seen the land from Delhi south
awash with blood.'

'What madness was that, then?'

'The Gods, who sent it for a plague, alone know. A madness ate
into all the Army, and they turned against their officers. That
was the first evil, but not past remedy if they had then held their
hands. But they chose to kill the Sahibs' wives and children. Then
came the Sahibs from over the sea and called them to most strict
account.'

'Some such rumour, I believe, reached me once long ago. They
called it the Black Year, as I remember.'

'What manner of life hast thou led, not to know The Year? A rumour
indeed! All earth knew, and trembled!'

'Our earth never shook but once - upon the day that the Excellent
One received Enlightenment.'

'Umph! I saw Delhi shake at least- and Delhi is the navel of the
world.'

'So they turned against women and children? That was a bad deed,
for which the punishment cannot be avoided.'

'Many strove to do so, but with very small profit. I was then in
a regiment of cavalry. It broke. Of six hundred and eighty sabres
stood fast to their salt - how many, think you? Three. Of whom I
was one.'

'The greater merit.'

'Merit! We did not consider it merit in those days. My people, my
friends, my brothers fell from me. They said: "The time of the
English is accomplished. Let each strike out a little holding for
himself." But I had talked with the men of Sobraon, of
Chilianwallah, of Moodkee and Ferozeshah. I said: "Abide a little
and the wind turns. There is no blessing in this work." In those
days I rode seventy miles with an English Memsahib and her babe on
my saddle-bow. (Wow! That was a horse fit for a man!) I placed them
in safety, and back came I to my officer - the one that was not
killed of our five. "Give me work," said I, "for I am an outcast
among my own kind, and my cousin's blood is wet on my sabre." "Be
content," said he. "There is great work forward. When this madness
is over there is a recompense."'

'Ay, there is a recompense when the madness is over, surely?' the
lama muttered half to himself.

'They did not hang medals in those days on all who by accident had
heard a gun fired. No! In nineteen pitched battles was I; in six-
and-forty skirmishes of horse; and in small affairs without number.
Nine wounds I bear; a medal and four clasps and the medal of an
Order, for my captains, who are now generals, remembered me when
the Kaisar-i-Hind had accomplished fifty years of her reign, and
all the land rejoiced. They said: "Give him the Order of Berittish
India." I carry it upon my neck now. I have also my jaghir
[holding] from the hands of the State - a free gift to me and mine.
The men of the old days -they are now Commissioners - come riding
to me through the crops - high upon horses so that all the village
sees - and we talk out the old skirmishes, one dead man's name
leading to another.'

'And after?' said the lama.

'Oh, afterwards they go away, but not before my village has seen.'

'And at the last what wilt thou do?'

'At the last I shall die.'

'And after?'

'Let the Gods order it. I have never pestered Them with prayers.
I do not think They will pester me. Look you, I have noticed in my
long life that those who eternally break in upon Those Above with
complaints and reports and bellowings and weepings are presently
sent for in haste, as our Colonel used to send for slack-jawed
down-country men who talked too much. No, I have never wearied the
Gods. They will remember this, and give me a quiet place where I
can drive my lance in the shade, and wait to welcome my sons: I
have no less than three Rissaldar - majors all - in the regiments.'

'And they likewise, bound upon the Wheel, go forth from life to
life - from despair to despair,' said the lama below his breath,
'hot, uneasy, snatching.'

'Ay,' the old soldier chuckled. 'Three Rissaldar -majors in three
regiments. Gamblers a little, but so am I. They must be well
mounted; and one cannot take the horses as in the old days one took
women. Well, well, my holding can pay for all. How thinkest thou?
It is a well-watered strip, but my men cheat me. I do not know how
to ask save at the lance's point. Ugh! I grow angry and I curse
them, and they feign penitence, but behind my back I know they call
me a toothless old ape.'

'Hast thou never desired any other thing?'

'Yes - yes - a thousand times! A straight back and a close-clinging
knee once more; a quick wrist and a keen eye; and the marrow that
makes a man. Oh, the old days - the good days of my strength!'

'That strength is weakness.'

'It has turned so; but fifty years since I could have proved it
otherwise,' the old soldier retorted, driving his stirrup-edge into
the pony's lean flank.

'But I know a River of great healing.'

'I have drank Gunga-water to the edge of dropsy. All she gave me
was a flux, and no sort of strength.'

'It is not Gunga. The River that I know washes from all taint of
sin. Ascending the far bank one is assured of Freedom. I do not
know thy life, but thy face is the face of the honourable and
courteous. Thou hast clung to thy Way, rendering fidelity when it
was hard to give, in that Black Year of which I now remember
other tales. Enter now upon the Middle Way which is the path to
Freedom. Hear the Most Excellent Law, and do not follow dreams.'

'Speak, then, old man,' the soldier smiled, half saluting. 'We be
all babblers at our age.'

The lama squatted under the shade of a mango, whose shadow played
checkerwise over his face; the soldier sat stiffly on the pony;
and Kim, making sure that there were no snakes, lay down in the
crotch of the twisted roots.

There was a drowsy buzz of small life in hot sunshine, a cooing
of doves, and a sleepy drone of well-wheels across the fields.
Slowly and impressively the lama began. At the end of ten minutes
the old soldier slid from his pony, to hear better as he said,
and sat with the reins round his wrist. The lama's voice faltered,
the periods lengthened. Kim was busy watching a grey squirrel.
When the little scolding bunch of fur, close pressed to the
branch, disappeared, preacher and audience were fast asleep, the
old officer's strong-cut head pillowed on his arm, the lama's
thrown back against the tree-bole, where it showed like yellow
ivory. A naked child toddled up, stared, and, moved by some quick
impulse of reverence, made a solemn little obeisance before the
lama - only the child was so short and fat that it toppled over
sideways, and Kim laughed at the sprawling, chubby legs. The
child, scared and indignant, yelled aloud.

'Hai! Hai!' said the soldier, leaping to his feet. 'What is it?
What orders? ... It is ... a child! I dreamed it was an alarm.
Little one - little one - do not cry. Have I slept? That was
discourteous indeed!'

'I fear! I am afraid!' roared the child.

'What is it to fear? Two old men and a boy? How wilt thou ever make
a soldier, Princeling?'

The lama had waked too, but, taking no direct notice of the child,
clicked his rosary.

'What is that?' said the child, stopping a yell midway. 'I have
never seen such things. Give them me.'

'Aha.' said the lama, smiling, and trailing a loop of it on the
grass:

This is a handful of cardamoms,
This is a lump of ghi:
This is millet and chillies and rice,
A supper for thee and me!

The child shrieked with joy, and snatched at the dark, glancing
beads.

'Oho!' said the old soldier. 'Whence hadst thou that song, despiser
of this world?'

'I learned it in Pathankot - sitting on a doorstep,' said the lama
shyly. 'It is good to be kind to babes.'

'As I remember, before the sleep came on us, thou hadst told me
that marriage and bearing were darkeners of the true light,
stumbling-blocks upon the Way. Do children drop from Heaven in thy
country? Is it the Way to sing them songs?'

'No man is all perfect,' said the lama gravely, recoiling the
rosary. 'Run now to thy mother, little one.'

'Hear him!' said the soldier to Kim. 'He is ashamed for that he has
made a child happy. There was a very good householder lost in thee,
my brother. Hai, child!' He threw it a pice. 'Sweetmeats are always
sweet.' And as the little figure capered away into the sunshine:
'They grow up and become men. Holy One, I grieve that I slept in
the midst of thy preaching. Forgive me.'

'We be two old men,' said the lama. 'The fault is mine. I listened
to thy talk of the world and its madness, and one fault led to the
next.'

'Hear him! What harm do thy Gods suffer from play with a babe? And
that song was very well sung. Let us go on and I will sing thee the
song of Nikal Seyn before Delhi - the old song.'

And they fared out from the gloom of the mango tope, the old man's
high, shrill voice ringing across the field, as wail by long-drawn
wail he unfolded the story of Nikal Seyn [Nicholson] - the song
that men sing in the Punjab to this day. Kim was delighted, and the
lama listened with deep interest.

'Ahi! Nikal Seyn is dead - he died before Delhi! Lances of the
North, take vengeance for Nikal Seyn.' He quavered it out to the
end, marking the trills with the flat of his sword on the pony's
rump.

'And now we come to the Big Road,' said he, after receiving the
compliments of Kim; for the lama was markedly silent. 'It is long
since I have ridden this way, but thy boy's talk stirred me. See,
Holy One - the Great Road which is the backbone of all Hind. For
the most part it is shaded, as here, with four lines of trees; the
middle road - all hard - takes the quick traffic. In the days before
rail-carriages the Sahibs travelled up and down here in hundreds.
Now there are only country-carts and such like. Left and right is
the rougher road for the heavy carts - grain and cotton and timber,
fodder, lime and hides. A man goes in safety here for at every few
koss is a police-station. The police are thieves and extortioners
(I myself would patrol it with cavalry - young recruits under a
strong captain), but at least they do not suffer any rivals. All
castes and kinds of men move here.

'Look! Brahmins and chumars, bankers and tinkers, barbers and
bunnias, pilgrims
and potters - all the world going and coming. It
is to me as a river from which I am withdrawn like a log after a
flood.'

And truly the Grand Trunk Road is a wonderful spectacle. It runs
straight, bearing without crowding India's traffic for fifteen
hundred miles - such a river of life as nowhere else exists in
the world. They looked at the green-arched, shade-flecked length
of it, the white breadth speckled with slow-pacing folk; and the
two-roomed police-station opposite.

'Who bears arms against the law?' a constable called out
laughingly, as he caught sight of the soldier's sword. 'Are not
the police enough to destroy evil-doers?'

'It was because of the police I bought it,' was the answer. 'Does
all go well in Hind?'

'Rissaldar Sahib, all goes well.'

'I am like an old tortoise, look you, who puts his head out from
the bank and draws it in again. Ay, this is the Road of Hindustan.
All men come by this way...'

'Son of a swine, is the soft part of the road meant for thee to
scratch thy back upon? Father of all the daughters of shame and
husband of ten thousand virtueless ones, thy mother was devoted
to a devil, being led thereto by her mother. Thy aunts have never
had a nose for seven generations! Thy sister - What Owl's folly
told thee to draw thy carts across the road? A broken wheel? Then
take a broken head and put the two together at leisure!'

The voice and a venomous whip-cracking came out of a pillar of
dust fifty yards away, where a cart had broken down. A thin, high
Kathiawar mare, with eyes and nostrils aflame, rocketed out of
the jam, snorting and wincing as her rider bent her across the
road in chase of a shouting man. He was tall and grey-bearded,
sitting the almost mad beast as a piece of her, and scientifically
lashing his victim between plunges.

The old man's face lit with pride. 'My child!' said he briefly, and
strove to rein the pony's neck to a fitting arch.

'Am I to be beaten before the police?' cried the carter. 'Justice!
I will have Justice -'

'Am I to be blocked by a shouting ape who upsets ten thousand sacks
under a young horse's nose? That is the way to ruin a mare.'

'He speaks truth. He speaks truth. But she follows her man close,'
said the old man. The carter ran under the wheels of his cart and
thence threatened all sorts of vengeance.

'They are strong men, thy sons,' said the policeman serenely,
picking his teeth.

The horseman delivered one last vicious cut with his whip and came
on at a canter.

'My father!' He reigned back ten yards and dismounted.

The old man was off his pony in an instant, and they embraced as do
father and son in the East.

Chapter 4

Good Luck, she is never a lady,
But the cursedest quean alive,
Tricksy, wincing, and jady -
Kittle to lead or drive.
Greet her - she's hailing a stranger!
Meet her - she's busking to leave!
Let her alone for a shrew to the bone
And the hussy comes plucking your sleeve!
Largesse! Largesse, O Fortune!
Give or hold at your will.
If I've no care for Fortune,
Fortune must follow me still!

The Wishing-Caps.

Then, lowering their voices, they spoke together. Kim came to rest
under a tree, but the lama tugged impatiently at his elbow.

'Let us go on. The River is not here.'

'Hai mai! Have we not walked enough for a little? Our River will
not run away. Patience, and he will give us a dole.'

'This.' said the old soldier suddenly, 'is the Friend of the Stars.
He brought me the news yesterday. Having seen the very man Himself,
in a vision, giving orders for the war.'

'Hm!' said his son, all deep in his broad chest. 'He came by a
bazar-rumour and made profit of it.'

His father laughed. 'At least he did not ride to me begging for a
new charger, and the Gods know how many rupees. Are thy brothers'
regiments also under orders?'

'I do not know. I took leave and came swiftly to thee in case -'

'In case they ran before thee to beg. O gamblers and spendthrifts
all! But thou hast never yet ridden in a charge. A good horse is
needed there, truly. A good follower and a good pony also for the
marching. Let us see - let us see.' He thrummed on the pommel.

'This is no place to cast accounts in, my father. Let us go to thy
house.'

'At least pay the boy, then: I have no pice with me, and he brought
auspicious news. Ho! Friend of all the World, a war is toward as
thou hast said.'

'Nay, as I know, the war,' returned Kim composedly.

'Eh?' said the lama, fingering his beads, all eager for the road.

'My master does not trouble the Stars for hire. We brought the news
bear witness, we brought the news, and now we go.' Kim half-crooked
his hand at his side.

The son tossed a silver coin through the sunlight, grumbling
something about beggars and jugglers. It was a four-anna piece, and
would feed them well for days. The lama, seeing the flash of the
metal, droned a blessing.

'Go thy way, Friend of all the World,' piped the old soldier,
wheeling his scrawny mount. 'For once in all my days I have met a
true prophet - who was not in the Army.'

Father and son swung round together: the old man sitting as erect
as the younger.

A Punjabi constable in yellow linen trousers slouched across the
road. He had seen the money pass.

'Halt!' he cried in impressive English. 'Know ye not that there is
a takkus of two annas a head, which is four annas, on those who
enter the Road from this side-road? It is the order of the Sirkar,
and the money is spent for the planting of trees and the
beautification of the ways.'

'And the bellies of the police,' said Kim, slipping out of arm's
reach. 'Consider for a while, man with a mud head. Think you we
came from the nearest pond like the frog, thy father-in-law? Hast
thou ever heard the name of thy brother?'

'And who was he? Leave the boy alone,' cried a senior constable,
immensely delighted, as he squatted down to smoke his pipe in the
veranda.

'He took a label from a bottle of belaitee-pani [soda-water], and,
affixing it to a bridge, collected taxes for a month from those who
passed, saying that it was the Sirkar's order. Then came an
Englishman and broke his head. Ah, brother, I am a town-crow, not a
village-crow!'

The policeman drew back abashed, and Kim hooted at him all down the
road.

'Was there ever such a disciple as I?' he cried merrily to the
lama. 'All earth would have picked thy bones within ten mile of
Lahore city if I had not guarded thee.'

'I consider in my own mind whether thou art a spirit, sometimes, or
sometimes an evil imp,' said the lama, smiling slowly.

'I am thy chela.' Kim dropped into step at his side - that
indescribable gait of the long-distance tramp all the world over.

'Now let us walk,' muttered the lama, and to the click of his
rosary they walked in silence mile upon mile. The lama as usual,
was deep in meditation, but Kim's bright eyes were open wide. This
broad, smiling river of life, he considered, was a vast improvement
on the cramped and crowded Lahore streets. There were new people
and new sights at every stride - castes he knew and castes that
were altogether out of his experience.

They met a troop of long-haired, strong-scented Sansis with baskets
of lizards and other unclean food on their backs, their lean dogs
sniffing at their heels. These people kept their own side of the
road', moving at a quick, furtive jog-trot, and all other castes
gave them ample room; for the Sansi is deep pollution. Behind them,
walking wide and stiffly across the strong shadows, the memory of
his leg-irons still on him, strode one newly released from the
jail; his full stomach and shiny skin to prove that the Government
fed its prisoners better than most honest men could feed
themselves. Kim knew that walk well, and made broad jest of it as
they passed. Then an Akali, a wild-eyed, wild-haired Sikh devotee
in the blue-checked clothes of his faith, with polished-steel
quoits glistening on the cone of his tall blue turban, stalked
past, returning from a visit to one of the independent Sikh States,
where he had been singing the ancient glories of the Khalsa to
College-trained princelings in top-boots and white-cord breeches.
Kim was careful not to irritate that man; for the Akali's temper is
short and his arm quick. Here and there they met or were overtaken
by the gaily dressed crowds of whole villages turning out to some
local fair; the women, with their babes on their hips, walking
behind the men, the older boys prancing on sticks of sugar-cane,
dragging rude brass models of locomotives such as they sell for a
halfpenny, or flashing the sun into the eyes of their betters from
cheap toy mirrors. One could see at a glance what each had bought;
and if there were any doubt it needed only to watch the wives
comparing, brown arm against brown arm, the newly purchased dull
glass bracelets that come from the North-West. These merry-makers
stepped slowly, calling one to the other and stopping to haggle
with sweetmeat-sellers, or to make a prayer before one of the
wayside shrines - sometimes Hindu, sometimes Mussalman - which the
low-caste of both creeds share with beautiful impartiality. A solid
line of blue, rising and falling like the back of a caterpillar in
haste, would swing up through the quivering dust and trot past to a
chorus of quick cackling. That was a gang of changars - the women
who have taken all the embankments of all the Northern railways
under their charge - a flat-footed, big-bosomed, strong-limbed,
blue-petticoated clan of earth-carriers, hurrying north on news of
a job, and wasting no time by the road. They belong to the caste
whose men do not count, and they walked with squared elbows,
swinging hips, and heads on high, as suits women who carry heavy
weights. A little later a marriage procession would strike into the
Grand Trunk with music and shoutings, and a smell of marigold and
jasmine stronger even than the reek of the dust. One could see the
bride's litter, a blur of red and tinsel, staggering through the
haze, while the bridegroom's bewreathed pony turned aside to snatch
a mouthful from a passing fodder-cart. Then Kim would join the
Kentish-fire of good wishes and bad jokes, wishing the couple a
hundred sons and no daughters, as the saying is. Still more
interesting and more to be shouted over it was when a strolling
juggler with some half-trained monkeys, or a panting, feeble bear,
or a woman who tied goats' horns to her feet, and with these danced
on a slack-rope, set the horses to shying and the women to shrill,
long-drawn quavers of amazement.

The lama never raised his eyes. He did not note the money-lender on
his goose-rumped pony, hastening along to collect the cruel
interest; or the long-shouting, deep-voiced little mob -still in
military formation - of native soldiers on leave, rejoicing to be
rid of their breeches and puttees, and saying the most outrageous
things to the most respectable women in sight. Even the seller of
Ganges-water he did not see, and Kim expected that he would at
least buy a bottle of that precious stuff. He looked steadily at
the ground, and strode as steadily hour after hour, his soul busied
elsewhere. But Kim was in the seventh heaven of joy. The Grand Trunk
at this point was built on an embankment to guard against
winter floods from the foothills, so that one walked, as it were, a
little above the country, along a stately corridor, seeing all
India spread out to left and right. It was beautiful to behold the
many-yoked grain and cotton wagons crawling over the country roads:
one could hear their axles, complaining a mile away, coming nearer,
till with shouts and yells and bad words they climbed up the steep
incline and plunged on to the hard main road, carter reviling
carter. It was equally beautiful to watch the people, little clumps
of red and blue and pink and white and saffron, turning aside to go
to their own villages, dispersing and growing small by twos and
threes across the level plain. Kim felt these things, though he
could not give tongue to his feelings, and so contented himself
with buying peeled sugar-cane and spitting the pith generously
about his path. From time to time the lama took snuff, and at last
Kim could endure the silence no longer.

'This is a good land - the land of the South!' said he. 'The air is
good; the water is good. Eh?'

'And they are all bound upon the Wheel,' said the lama. 'Bound from
life after life. To none of these has the Way been shown.' He shook
himself back to this world.

'And now we have walked a weary way,' said Kim. 'Surely we shall
soon come to a parao [a resting-place]. Shall we stay there? Look,
the sun is sloping.'

'Who will receive us this evening?'

'That is all one. This country is full of good folk. Besides' he
sunk his voice beneath a whisper - 'we have money.'

The crowd thickened as they neared the resting-place which marked
the end of their day's journey. A line of stalls selling very
simple food and tobacco, a stack of firewood, a police-station, a
well, a horse-trough, a few trees, and, under them, some trampled
ground dotted with the black ashes of old fires, are all that mark
a parao on the Grand Trunk; if you except the beggars and the crows
- both hungry.

By this time the sun was driving broad golden spokes through the
lower branches of the mango-trees; the parakeets and doves were
coming. home in their hundreds; the chattering, grey-backed Seven
Sisters, talking over the day's adventures, walked back and forth
in twos and threes almost under the feet of the travellers; and
shufflings and scufflings in the branches showed that the bats were
ready to go out on the night-picket. Swiftly the light gathered
itself together, painted for an instant the faces and the
cartwheels and the bullocks' horns as red as blood. Then the night
fell, changing the touch of the air, drawing a low, even haze, like
a gossamer veil of blue, across the face of the country, and
bringing out, keen and distinct, the smell of wood-smoke and cattle
and the good scent of wheaten cakes cooked on ashes. The evening
patrol hurried out of the police-station with important coughings
and reiterated orders; and a live charcoal ball in the cup of a
wayside carter's hookah glowed red while Kim's eye mechanically
watched the last flicker of the sun on the brass tweezers.

The life of the parao was very like that of the Kashmir Serai on a
small scale. Kim dived into the happy Asiatic disorder which, if
you only allow time, will bring you everything that a simple man
needs.

His wants were few, because, since the lama had no caste scruples,
cooked food from the nearest stall would serve; but, for luxury's
sake, Kim bought a handful of dung-cakes to build a fire. All
about, coming and going round the little flames, men cried for oil,
or grain, or sweetmeats, or tobacco, jostling one another while
they waited their turn at the well; and under the men's voices you
heard from halted, shuttered carts the high squeals and giggles of
women whose faces should not be seen in public.

Nowadays, well-educated natives are of opinion that when their
womenfolk travel - and they visit a good deal - it is better to
take them quickly by rail in a properly screened compartment; and
that custom is spreading. But there are always those of the old
rock who hold by the use of their forefathers; and, above all,
there are always the old women - more conservative than the men -
who toward the end of their days go on a pilgrimage. They, being
withered and undesirable, do not, under certain circumstances,
object to unveiling. After their long seclusion, during which they
have always been in business touch with a thousand outside
interests, they love the bustle and stir of the open road, the
gatherings at the shrines, and the infinite possibilities of gossip
with like-minded dowagers. Very often it suits a longsuffering
family that a strong-tongued, iron-willed old lady should disport
herself about India in this fashion; for certainly pilgrimage is
grateful to the Gods. So all about India, in the most remote
places, as in the most public, you find some knot of grizzled
servitors in nominal charge of an old lady who is more or less
curtained and hid away in a bullock-cart. Such men are staid and
discreet, and when a European or a high-caste native is near will
net their charge with most elaborate precautions; but in the
ordinary haphazard chances of pilgrimage the precautions are not
taken. The old lady is, after all, intensely human, and lives to
look upon life.

Kim marked down a gaily ornamented ruth or family bullock-cart,
with a broidered canopy of two domes, like a double-humped camel,
which had just been drawn into the par. Eight men made its retinue,
and two of the eight were armed with rusty sabres - sure signs that
they followed a person of distinction, for the common folk do not
bear arms. An increasing cackle of complaints, orders, and jests,
and what to a European would have been bad language, came from
behind the curtains. Here was evidently a woman used to command.

Kim looked over the retinue critically. Half of them were thin-
legged, grey-bearded Ooryas from down country. The other half were
duffle-clad, felt-hatted hillmen of the North; and that mixture
told its own tale, even if he had not overheard the incessant
sparring between the two divisions. The old lady was going south on
a visit - probably to a rich relative, most probably to a son-in-
law, who had sent up an escort as a mark of respect. The hillmen
would be of her own people - Kulu or Kangra folk. It was quite
clear that she was not taking her daughter down to be wedded, or
the curtains would have been laced home and the guard would have
allowed no one near the car. A merry and a high-spirited dame,
thought Kim, balancing the dung-cake in one hand, the cooked food
in the other, and piloting the lama with a nudging shoulder.
Something might be made out of the meeting. The lama would give him
no help, but, as a conscientious chela, Kim was delighted to beg
for two.

He built his fire as close to the cart as he dared, waiting for one
of the escort to order him away. The lama dropped wearily to the
ground, much as a heavy fruit-eating bat cowers, and returned to
his rosary.

'Stand farther off, beggar!' The order was shouted in broken
Hindustani by one of the hillmen.

'Huh! It is only a pahari [a hillman]', said Kim over his shoulder.
'Since when have the hill-asses owned all Hindustan?'

The retort was a swift and brilliant sketch of Kim's pedigree for
three generations.

'Ah!' Kim's voice was sweeter than ever, as he broke the dung-cake
into fit pieces. 'In my country we call that the beginning of love-talk.'

A harsh, thin cackle behind the curtains put the hillman on his
mettle for a second shot.

'Not so bad - not so bad,' said Kim with calm. 'But have a care, my
brother, lest we - we, I say - be minded to give a curse or so in
return. And our curses have the knack of biting home.'

The Ooryas laughed; the hillman sprang forward threateningly. The
lama suddenly raised his head, bringing his huge tam-o'-shanter hat
into the full light of Kim's new-started fire.

'What is it?' said he.

The man halted as though struck to stone. 'I - I - am saved from a
great sin,' he stammered.

'The foreigner has found him a priest at last,' whispered one of
the Ooryas.

'Hai! Why is that beggar-brat not well beaten?' the old woman
cried.

The hillman drew back to the cart and whispered something to the
curtain. There was dead silence, then a muttering.

'This goes well,' thought Kim, pretending neither to see nor hear.

'When - when - he has eaten' - the hillman fawned on Kim - 'it - it
is requested that the Holy One will do the honour to talk to one
who would speak to him.'

'After he has eaten he will sleep,' Kim returned loftily. He could
not quite see what new turn the game had taken, but stood resolute
to profit by it. 'Now I will get him his food.' The last sentence,
spoken loudly, ended with a sigh as of faintness.

'I - I myself and the others of my people will look to that - if it
is permitted.'

'It is permitted,' said Kim, more loftily than ever. 'Holy One,
these people will bring us food.'

'The land is good. All the country of the South is good - a great
and a terrible world,' mumbled the lama drowsily.

'Let him sleep,' said Kim, 'but look to it that we are well fed
when he wakes. He is a very holy man.'

Again one of the Ooryas said something contemptuously.

'He is not a fakir. He is not a down-country beggar,' Kim went on
severely, addressing the stars. 'He is the most holy of holy men.
He is above all castes. I am his chela.'

'Come here!' said the flat thin voice behind the curtain; and Kim
came, conscious that eyes he could not see were staring at him. One
skinny brown finger heavy with rings lay on the edge of the cart,
and the talk went this way:

'Who is that one?'

'An exceedingly holy one. He comes from far off. He comes from
Tibet.'

'Where in Tibet?'

'From behind the snows - from a very far place. He knows the stars;
he makes horoscopes; he reads nativities. But he does not do this
for money. He does it for kindness and great charity. I am his
disciple. I am called also the Friend of the Stars.'

'Thou art no hillman.'

'Ask him. He will tell thee I was sent to him from the Stars to
show him an end to his pilgrimage.'

'Humph! Consider, brat, that I am an old woman and not altogether a
fool. Lamas I know, and to these I give reverence, but thou art no
more a lawful chela than this my finger is the pole of this wagon.
Thou art a casteless Hindu - a bold and unblushing beggar,
attached, belike, to the Holy One for the sake of gain.'

'Do we not all work for gain?' Kim changed his tone promptly to
match that altered voice. 'I have heard' - this was a bow drawn at
a venture - 'I have heard -'

'What hast thou heard?' she snapped, rapping with the finger.

'Nothing that I well remember, but some talk in the bazars, which
is doubtless a lie, that even Rajahs - small Hill Rajahs -'

'But none the less of good Rajput blood.'

'Assuredly of good blood. That these even sell the more comely of
their womenfolk for gain. Down south they sell them - to zemindars
and such - all of Oudh.'

If there be one thing in the world that the small Hill Rajahs deny
it is just this charge; but it happens to be one thing that the
bazars believe, when they discuss the mysterious slave-traffics of
India. The old lady explained to Kim, in a tense, indignant
whisper, precisely what manner and fashion of malignant liar he
was. Had Kim hinted this when she was a girl, he would have been
pommelled to death that same evening by an elephant. This was
perfectly true.

'Ahai! I am only a beggar's brat, as the Eye of Beauty has said,'
he wailed in extravagant terror.

'Eye of Beauty, forsooth! Who am I that thou shouldst fling
beggar-endearments at me?' And yet she laughed at the long-
forgotten word. 'Forty years ago that might have been said, and not
without truth. Ay. thirty years ago. But it is the fault of this
gadding up and down Hind that a king's widow must jostle all the
scum of the land, and be made a mock by beggars.'

'Great Queen,' said Kim promptly, for he heard her shaking with
indignation, 'I am even what the Great Queen says I am; but none
the less is my master holy. He has not yet heard the Great Queen's
order that -'

'Order? I order a Holy One - a Teacher of the Law - to come and
speak to a woman? Never!'

'Pity my stupidity. I thought it was given as an order -'

'It was not. It was a petition. Does this make all clear?'

A silver coin clicked on the edge of the cart. Kim took it and
salaamed profoundly. The old lady recognized that, as the eyes and
the ears of the lama, he was to be propitiated.

'I am but the Holy One's disciple. When he has eaten perhaps he
will come.'

'Oh, villain and shameless rogue!' The jewelled forefinger shook
itself at him reprovingly; but he could hear the old lady's
chuckle.

'Nay, what is it?' he said, dropping into his most caressing and
confidential tone - the one, he well knew, that few could resist.
'Is - is there any need of a son in thy family? Speak freely, for
we priests -' That last was a direct plagiarism from a fakir by the
Taksali Gate.

'We priests! Thou art not yet old enough to -' She checked the joke
with another laugh. 'Believe me, now and again, we women, O priest,
think of other matters than sons. Moreover, my daughter has borne
her man-child.'

'Two arrows in the quiver are better than one; and three are better
still.' Kim quoted the proverb with a meditative cough, looking
discreetly earthward.

'True - oh, true. But perhaps that will come. Certainly those down-
country Brahmins are utterly useless. I sent gifts and monies and
gifts again to them, and they prophesied.'

'Ah,' drawled Kim, with infinite contempt, 'they prophesied!' A
professional could have done no better.

'And it was not till I remembered my own Gods that my prayers were
heard. I chose an auspicious hour, and - perhaps thy Holy One has
heard of the Abbot of the Lung-Cho lamassery. It was to him I put
the matter, and behold in the due time all came about as I desired.
The Brahmin in the house of the father of my daughter's son has
since said that it was through his prayers - which is a little
error that I will explain to him when we reach our journey's end.
And so afterwards I go to Buddh Gaya, to make shraddha for the
father of my children.'

'Thither go we.'

'Doubly auspicious,' chirruped the old lady. 'A second son at
least!'

'O Friend of all the World!' The lama had waked, and, simply as a
child bewildered in a strange bed, called for Kim.

'I come! I come, Holy One!' He dashed to the fire, where he found
the lama already surrounded by dishes of food, the hillmen visibly
adoring him and the Southerners looking sourly.

'Go back! Withdraw!' Kim cried. 'Do we eat publicly like dogs?'
They finished the meal in silence, each turned a little from the
other, and Kim topped it with a native-made cigarette.

'Have I not said an hundred times that the South is a good land?
Here is a virtuous and high-born widow of a Hill Rajah on
pilgrimage, she says, to Buddha Gay. She it is sends us those
dishes; and when thou art well rested she would speak to thee.'

'Is this also thy work?' The lama dipped deep into his snuff-gourd.

'Who else watched over thee since our wonderful journey began?'
Kim's eyes danced in his head as he blew the rank smoke through his
nostrils and stretched him on the dusty ground. 'Have I failed to
oversee thy comforts, Holy One?'

'A blessing on thee.' The lama inclined his solemn head. 'I have
known many men in my so long life, and disciples not a few. But to
none among men, if so be thou art woman-born, has my heart gone out
as it has to thee - thoughtful, wise, and courteous; but something
of a small imp.'

'And I have never seen such a priest as thou.' Kim considered the
benevolent yellow face wrinkle by wrinkle. 'It is less than three
days since we took the road together, and it is as though it were a
hundred years.'

'Perhaps in a former life it was permitted that I should have
rendered thee some service. Maybe' - he smiled - 'I freed thee from
a trap; or, having caught thee on a hook in the days when I was
not enlightened, cast thee back into the river.'

'Maybe,' said Kim quietly. He had heard this sort of speculation
again and again, from the mouths of many whom the English would not
consider imaginative. 'Now, as regards that
woman in the bullock-cart. I think she needs a second son for her
daughter.'

'That is no part of the Way,' sighed the lama. 'But at least she is
from the Hills. Ah, the Hills, and the snow of the Hills!'

He rose and stalked to the cart. Kim would have given his ears to
come too, but the lama did not invite him; and the few words he
caught were in an unknown tongue, for they spoke some common speech
of the mountains. The woman seemed to ask questions which the lama
turned over in his mind before answering. Now and again he heard
the singsong cadence of a Chinese quotation. It was a strange
picture that Kim watched between drooped eyelids. The lama, very
straight and erect, the deep folds of his yellow clothing slashed
with black in the light of the parao fires precisely as a knotted
tree-trunk is slashed with the shadows of the low sun, addressed a
tinsel and lacquered ruth which burned like a many-coloured jewel
in the same uncertain light. The patterns on the gold-worked
curtains ran up and down, melting and reforming as the folds shook
and quivered to the night wind; and when the talk grew more earnest
the jewelled forefinger snapped out little sparks of light between
the embroideries. Behind the cart was a wall of uncertain darkness
speckled with little flames and alive with half-caught forms and
faces and shadows. The voices of early evening had settled down to
one soothing hum whose deepest note was the steady chumping of the
bullocks above their chopped straw, and whose highest was the
tinkle of a Bengali dancing-girl's sitar. Most men had eaten and
pulled deep at their gurgling, grunting hookahs, which in full
blast sound like bull-frogs.

At last the lama returned. A hillman walked behind him with a
wadded cotton-quilt and spread it carefully by the fire.

'She deserves ten thousand grandchildren,' thought Kim. 'None the
less, but for me, those gifts would not have come.'

'A virtuous woman - and a wise one.' The lama slackened off, joint
by joint, like a slow camel. 'The world is full of charity to those
who follow the Way.' He flung a fair half of the quilt over Kim.

'And what said she?' Kim rolled up in his share of it.

'She asked me many questions and propounded many problems - the
most of which were idle tales which she had heard from devil-
serving priests who pretend to follow the Way. Some I answered, and
some I said were foolish. Many wear the Robe, but few keep the
Way.'

'True. That is true.' Kim used the thoughtful, conciliatory tone of
those who wish to draw confidences.

'But by her lights she is most right-minded. She desires greatly
that we should go with her to Buddh Gaya; her road being ours, as I
understand, for many days' journey to the southward.'

'And?'

'Patience a little. To this I said that my Search came before all
things. She had heard many foolish legends, but this great truth of
my River she had never heard. Such are the priests of the lower
hills! She knew the Abbot of Lung-Cho, but she did not know of my
River - nor the tale of the Arrow.'

'And?'

'I spoke therefore of the Search, and of the Way, and of matters
that were profitable; she desiring only that I should accompany her
and make prayer for a second son.'

'Aha! "We women" do not think of anything save children,' said Kim
sleepily.

'Now, since our roads run together for a while, I do not see that
we in any way depart from our Search if so be we accompany her - at
least as far as - I have forgotten the name of the city.'

'Ohe!' said Kim, turning and speaking in a sharp whisper to one of
the Ooryas a few yards away. 'Where is your master's house?'

'A little behind Saharunpore, among the fruit gardens.' He named
the village.

'That was the place,' said the lama. 'So far, at least, we can go
with her.'

'Flies go to carrion,' said the Oorya, in an abstracted voice.

'For the sick cow a crow; for the sick man a Brahmin.' Kim breathed
the proverb impersonally to the shadow-tops of the trees overhead.

The Oorya grunted and held his peace.

'So then we go with her, Holy One?'

'Is there any reason against? I can still step aside and try all
the rivers that the road overpasses. She desires that I should
come. She very greatly desires it.'

Kim stifled a laugh in the quilt. When once that imperious old lady
had recovered from her natural awe of a lama he thought it probable
that she would be worth listening to.

He was nearly asleep when the lama suddenly quoted a proverb: 'The
husbands of the talkative have a great reward hereafter.' Then Kim
heard him snuff thrice, and dozed off, still laughing.

The diamond-bright dawn woke men and crows and bullocks together.
Kim sat up and yawned, shook himself, and thrilled with delight.
This was seeing the world in real truth; this was life as he would
have it - bustling and shouting, the buckling of belts, and beating
of bullocks and creaking of wheels, lighting of fires and cooking
of food, and new sights at every turn of the approving eye. The
morning mist swept off in a whorl of silver, the parrots shot away
to some distant river in shrieking green hosts: all the well-wheels
within ear-shot went to work. India was awake, and Kim was in the
middle of it, more awake and more excited than anyone, chewing on a
twig that he would presently use as a toothbrush; for he borrowed
right- and left-handedly from all the customs of the country he
knew and loved. There was no need to worry about food - no need to
spend a cowrie at the crowded stalls. He was the disciple of a holy
man annexed by a strong-willed old lady. All things would be
prepared for them, and when they were respectfully invited so to do
they would sit and eat. For the rest - Kim giggled here as he
cleaned his teeth - his hostess would rather heighten the enjoyment
of the road. He inspected her bullocks critically, as they came up
grunting and blowing under the yokes. If they went too fast -it was
not likely - there would be a pleasant seat for himself along the
pole; the lama would sit beside the driver. The escort, of course,
would walk. The old lady, equally of course, would talk a great
deal, and by what he had heard that conversation would not lack
salt. She was already ordering, haranguing, rebuking, and, it must
be said, cursing her servants for delays.

'Get her her pipe. In the name of the Gods, get her her pipe and
stop her ill-omened mouth,' cried an Oorya, tying up his shapeless
bundles of bedding. 'She and the parrots are alike. They screech in
the dawn.'

'The lead-bullocks! Hai! Look to the lead-bullocks!' They were
backing and wheeling as a grain-cart's axle caught them by the
horns. "Son of an owl, where dost thou go?' This to the grinning
carter.

'Ai! Yai! Yai! That within there is the Queen of Delhi going to
pray for a son,' the man called back over his high load. 'Room for
the Queen of Delhi and her Prime Minister the grey monkey climbing
up his own sword!' Another cart loaded with bark for a down-country
tannery followed close behind, and its driver added a few
compliments as the ruth-bullocks backed and backed again.

From behind the shaking curtains came one volley of invective. It
did not last long, but in kind and quality, in blistering, biting
appropriateness, it was beyond anything that even Kim had heard. He
could see the carter's bare chest collapse with amazement, as the
man salaamed reverently to the voice, leaped from the pole, and
helped the escort haul their volcano on to the main road. Here the
voice told him truthfully what sort of wife he had wedded, and what
she was doing in his absence.

'Oh, shabash!' murmured Kim, unable to contain himself, as the man
slunk away.

'Well done, indeed? It is a shame and a scandal that a poor woman
may not go to make prayer to her Gods except she be jostled and
insulted by all the refuse of Hindustan - that she must eat gali
[abuse] as men eat ghi. But I have yet a wag left to my tongue - a
word or two well spoken that serves the occasion. And still am I
without my tobacco! Who is the one-eyed and luckless son of shame
that has not yet prepared my pipe?'

It was hastily thrust in by a hillman, and a trickle of thick smoke
from each corner of the curtains showed that peace was restored.

If Kim had walked proudly the day before, disciple of a holy man,
today he paced with tenfold pride in the train of a semi-royal
procession, with a recognized place under the patronage of an old
lady of charming manners and infinite resource. The escort, their
heads tied up native-fashion, fell in on either side the cart,
shuffling enormous clouds of dust.

The lama and Kim walked a little to one side; Kim chewing his stick
of sugarcane, and making way for no one under the status of a
priest. They could hear the old lady's tongue clack as steadily as
a rice-husker. She bade the escort tell her what was going on on
the road; and so soon as they were clear of the parao she flung
back the curtains and peered out, her veil a third across her face.
Her men did not eye her directly when she addressed them, and thus
the proprieties were more or less observed.

A dark, sallowish District Superintendent of Police, faultlessly
uniformed, an Englishman, trotted by on a tired horse, and, seeing
from her retinue what manner of person she was, chaffed her.

'O mother,' he cried, 'do they do this in the zenanas? Suppose an
Englishman came by and saw that thou hast no nose?'

'What?' she shrilled back. 'Thine own mother has no nose? Why say
so, then, on the open road?'

It was a fair counter. The Englishman threw up his hand with the
gesture of a man hit at sword-play. She laughed and nodded.

'Is this a face to tempt virtue aside?' She withdrew all her veil
and stared at him.

It was by no means lovely, but as the man gathered up his reins he
called it a Moon of Paradise, a Disturber of Integrity, and a few
other fantastic epithets which doubled her up with mirth.

'That is a nut-cut [rogue],' she said. 'All police-constables are
nut-cuts; but the police-wallahs are the worst. Hai, my son, thou
hast never learned all that since thou camest from Belait [Europe].
Who suckled thee?'

'A pahareen - a hillwoman of Dalhousie, my mother. Keep thy beauty
under a shade - O Dispenser of Delights,' and he was gone.

'These be the sort' - she took a fine judicial tone, and stuffed
her mouth with pan - 'These be the sort to oversee justice. They
know the land and the customs of the land. The others, all new from
Europe, suckled by white women and learning our tongues from books,
are worse than the pestilence. They do harm to Kings.' Then she
told a long, long tale to the world at large, of an ignorant young
policeman who had disturbed some small Hill Rajah, a ninth cousin
of her own, in the matter of a trivial land-case, winding up with a
quotation from a work by no means devotional.

Then her mood changed, and she bade one of the escort ask whether
the lama would walk alongside and discuss matters of religion. So
Kim dropped back into the dust and returned to his sugar-cane. For
an hour or more the lama's tam-o'shanter showed like a moon through
the haze; and, from all he heard, Kim gathered that the old woman
wept. One of the Ooryas half apologized for his rudeness overnight,
saying that he had never known his mistress of so bland a temper,
and he ascribed it to the presence of the strange priest.
Personally, he believed in Brahmins, though, like all natives, he
was acutely aware of their cunning and their greed. Still, when
Brahmins but irritated with begging demands the mother of his
master's wife, and when she sent them away so angry that they
cursed the whole retinue (which was the real reason of the second
off-side bullock going lame, and of the pole breaking the night
before), he was prepared to accept any priest of any other
denomination in or out of India. To this Kim assented with wise
nods, and bade the Oorya observe that the lama took no money, and
that the cost of his and Kim's food would be repaid a hundred times
in the good luck that would attend the caravan henceforward. He
also told stories of Lahore city, and sang a song or two which made
the escort laugh. As a town-mouse well acquainted with the latest
songs by the most fashionable composers - they are women for the
most part - Kim had a distinct advantage over men from a little
fruit-village behind Saharunpore, but he let that advantage be
inferred.

At noon they turned aside to eat, and the meal was good, plentiful,
and well-served on plates of clean leaves, in decency, out of drift
of the dust. They gave the scraps to certain beggars, that all
requirements might be fulfilled, and sat down to a long, luxurious
smoke. The old lady had retreated behind her curtains, but mixed
most freely in the talk, her servants arguing with and
contradicting her as servants do throughout the East. She compared
the cool and the pines of the Kangra and Kulu hills with the dust
and the mangoes of the South; she told a tale of some old local
Gods at the edge of her husband's territory; she roundly abused the
tobacco which she was then smoking, reviled all Brahmins, and
speculated without reserve on the coming of many grandsons.

Chapter 5

Here come I to my own again
Fed, forgiven, and known again
Claimed by bone of my bone again,
And sib to flesh of my flesh!
The fatted calf is dressed for me,
But the husks have greater zest for me ...
I think my pigs will be best for me,
So I'm off to the styes afresh.

The Prodigal Son.

Once more the lazy, string-tied, shuffling procession got under
way, and she slept till they reached the next halting-stage. It was
a very short march, and time lacked an hour to sundown, so Kim cast
about for means of amusement.

'But why not sit and rest?' said one of the escort. 'Only the
devils and the English walk to and fro without reason.'

'Never make friends with the Devil, a Monkey, or a Boy. No man
knows what they will do next,' said his fellow.

Kim turned a scornful back - he did not want to hear the old story
how the Devil played with the boys and repented of it and walked
idly across country.

The lama strode after him. All that day, whenever they passed a
stream, he had turned aside to look at it, but in no case had he
received any warning that he had found his River. Insensibly, too,
the comfort of speaking to someone in a reasonable tongue, and of
being properly considered and respected as her spiritual adviser by
a well-born woman, had weaned his thoughts a little from the
Search. And further, he was prepared to spend serene years in his
quest; having nothing of the white man's impatience, but a great
faith.

'Where goest thou?' he called after Kim.

'Nowhither - it was a small march, and all this' - Kim waved his
hands abroad - 'is new to me.'

'She is beyond question a wise and a discerning woman. But it is
hard to meditate when -'

'All women are thus.' Kim spoke as might have Solomon.

'Before the lamassery was a broad platform,' the lama muttered,
looping up the well-worn rosary, 'of stone. On that I have left the
marks of my feet - pacing to and fro with these.'

He clicked the beads, and began the 'Om mane pudme hum's of his
devotion; grateful for the cool, the quiet, and the absence of
dust.

One thing after another drew Kim's idle eye across the plain. There
was no purpose in his wanderings, except that the build of the huts
near by seemed new, and he wished to investigate.

They came out on a broad tract of grazing-ground, brown and purple
in the afternoon light, with a heavy clump of mangoes in the
centre. It struck Kim as curious that no shrine stood in so
eligible a spot: the boy was observing as any priest for these
things. Far across the plain walked side by side four men, made
small by the distance. He looked intently under his curved palms
and caught the sheen of brass.

'Soldiers. White soldiers!' said he. 'Let us see.'

'It is always soldiers when thou and I go out alone together. But I
have never seen the white soldiers.'

'They do no harm except when they are drunk. Keep behind this
tree.'

They stepped behind the thick trunks in the cool dark of the mango-
tope. Two little figures halted; the other two came forward
uncertainly. They were the advance-party of a regiment on the
march, sent out, as usual, to mark the camp. They bore five-foot
sticks with fluttering flags, and called to each other as they
spread over the flat earth.

At last they entered the mango-grove, walking heavily.

'It's here or hereabouts - officers' tents under the trees, I take
it, an' the rest of us can stay outside. Have they marked out for
the baggage-wagons behind?'

They cried again to their comrades in the distance, and the rough
answer came back faint and mellowed.

'Shove the flag in here, then,' said one.

'What do they prepare?' said the lama, wonderstruck. 'This is a
great and terrible world. What is the device on the flag?'

A soldier thrust a stave within a few feet of them, grunted
discontentedly, pulled it up again, conferred with his companion,
who looked up and down the shaded cave of greenery, and returned
it.

Kim stared with all his eyes, his breath coming short and sharp
between his teeth. The soldiers stamped off into the sunshine.

'O Holy One!' he gasped. 'My horoscope! The drawing in the dust by
the priest at Umballa! Remember what he said. First come two -
ferashes - to make all things ready - in a dark place, as it is
always at the beginning of a vision.'

'But this is not vision,' said the lama. 'It is the world's
Illusion, and no more.'

'And after them comes the Bull - the Red Bull on the green field.
Look! It is he!'

He pointed to the flag that was snap snapping in the evening breeze
not ten feet away. It was no more than an ordinary camp marking-
flag; but the regiment, always punctilious in matters of millinery,
had charged it with the regimental device, the Red Bull, which is
the crest of the Mavericks - the great Red Bull on a background of
Irish green.

'I see, and now I remember.' said the lama. 'Certainly it is thy
Bull. Certainly, also, the two men came to make all ready.'

'They are soldiers - white soldiers. What said the priest? "The
sign over against the Bull is the sign of War and armed men." Holy
One, this thing touches my Search.'

'True. It is true.' The lama stared fixedly at the device that
flamed like a ruby in the dusk. 'The priest at Umballa said that
thine was the sign of War.'

'What is to do now?'

'Wait. Let us wait.'

'Even now the darkness clears,' said Kim. It was only natural that
the descending sun should at last strike through the tree-trunks,
across the grove, filling it with mealy gold light for a few
minutes; but to Kim it was the crown of the Umballa Brahmin's
prophecy.

'Hark!' said the lama. 'One beats a drum - far off!'

At first the sound, carrying diluted through the still air,
resembled the beating of an artery in the head. Soon a sharpness
was added.

'Ah! The music,' Kim explained. He knew the sound of a regimental
band, but it amazed the lama.

At the far end of the plain a heavy, dusty column crawled in sight.
Then the wind brought the tune:

We crave your condescension
To tell you what we know
Of marching in the Mulligan Guards
To Sligo Port below!

Here broke in the shrill-tongued fifes:

We shouldered arms,
We marched - we marched away.
From Phoenix Park
We marched to Dublin Bay.
The drums and the fifes,
Oh, sweetly they did play,
As we marched - marched - marched - with the
Mulligan Guards!

It was the band of the Mavericks playing the regiment to camp; for
the men were route-marching with their baggage. The rippling column
swung into the level - carts behind it divided left and right, ran
about like an ant-hill, and ...

'But this is sorcery!' said the lama.

The plain dotted itself with tents that seemed to rise, all spread,
from the carts. Another rush of men invaded the grove, pitched a
huge tent in silence, ran up yet eight or nine more by the side of
it, unearthed cooking-pots, pans, and bundles, which were taken
possession of by a crowd of native servants; and behold the mango-
tope turned into an orderly town as they watched!

'Let us go,' said the lama, sinking back afraid, as the fires
twinkled and white officers with jingling swords stalked into the
Mess-tent.

'Stand back in the shadow. No one can see beyond the light of a
fire,' said Kim, his eyes still on the flag. He had never before
watched the routine of a seasoned regiment pitching camp in thirty
minutes.

'Look! look! look!' clucked the lama. 'Yonder comes a priest.' It
was Bennett, the Church of England Chaplain of the regiment,
limping in dusty black. One of his flock had made some rude remarks
about the Chaplain's mettle; and to abash him Bennett had marched
step by step with the men that day. The black dress, gold cross on
the watch-chain, the hairless face, and the soft, black wideawake
hat would have marked him as a holy man anywhere in all India. He
dropped into a camp-chair by the door of the Mess-tent and slid off
his boots. Three or four officers gathered round him, laughing and
joking over his exploit.

'The talk of white men is wholly lacking in dignity,' said the
lama, who judged only by tone. 'But I considered the countenance of
that priest and I think he is learned. Is it likely that he will
understand our talk? I would talk to him of my Search.'

'Never speak to a white man till he is fed,' said Kim, quoting a
well-known proverb. 'They will eat now, and - and I do not think
they are good to beg from. Let us go back to the resting-place.
After we have eaten we will come again. It certainly was a Red Bull
- my Red Bull.'

They were both noticeably absent-minded when the old lady's retinue
set their meal before them; so none broke their reserve, for it is
not lucky to annoy guests.

'Now,' said Kim, picking his teeth, 'we will return to that place;
but thou, O Holy One, must wait a little way off, because thy feet
are heavier than mine and I am anxious to see more of that Red
Bull.'

'But how canst thou understand the talk? Walk slowly. The road is
dark,' the lama replied uneasily.

Kim put the question aside. 'I marked a place near to the trees,'
said he, 'where thou canst sit till I call. Nay,' as the lama made
some sort of protest, 'remember this is my Search - the Search for
my Red Bull. The sign in the Stars was not for thee. I know a
little of the customs of white soldiers, and I always desire to see
some new things.'

'What dost thou not know of this world?' The lama squatted
obediently in a little hollow of the ground not a hundred yards
from the hump of the mango-trees dark against the star-powdered
sky.

'Stay till I call.' Kim flitted into the dusk. He knew that in all
probability there would be sentries round the camp, and smiled to
himself as he heard the thick boots of one. A boy who can dodge
over the roofs of Lahore city on a moonlight night, using every
little patch and corner of darkness to discomfit his pursuer, is
not likely to be checked by a line of well-trained soldiers. He
paid them the compliment of crawling between a couple, and, running
and halting, crouching and dropping flat, worked his way toward the
lighted Mess-tent where, close pressed behind the mango-tree, he
waited till some chance word should give him a returnable lead.

The one thing now in his mind was further information as to the Red
Bull. For aught he knew, and Kim's limitations were as curious and
sudden as his expansions, the men, the nine hundred thorough devils
of his father's prophecy, might pray to the beast after dark, as
Hindus pray to the Holy Cow. That at least would be entirely right
and logical, and the padre with the gold cross would be therefore
the man to consult in the matter. On the other hand, remembering
sober-faced padres whom he had avoided in Lahore city, the priest
might be an inquisitive nuisance who would bid him learn. But had
it not been proven at Umballa that his sign in the high heavens
portended War and armed men? Was he not the Friend of the Stars as
well as of all the World, crammed to the teeth with dreadful
secrets? Lastly - and firstly as the undercurrent of all his quick
thoughts -this adventure, though he did not know the English word,
was a stupendous lark - a delightful continuation of his old
flights across the housetops, as well as the fulfilment of sublime
prophecy. He lay belly-flat and wriggled towards the Mess-tent
door, a hand on the amulet round his neck.

It was as he suspected. The Sahibs prayed to their God; for in the
centre of the Mess-table - its sole ornament when they were on the
line of march - stood a golden bull fashioned from old-time loot of
the Summer Palace at Pekin - a red-gold bull with lowered head,
ramping upon a field of Irish green. To him the Sahibs held out
their glasses and cried aloud confusedly.

Now the Reverend Arthur Bennett always left Mess after that toast,
and being rather tired by his march his movements were more abrupt
than usual. Kim, with slightly raised head, was still staring at
his totem on the table, when the Chaplain stepped on his right
shoulder-blade. Kim flinched under the leather, and, rolling
sideways, brought down the Chaplain, who, ever a man of action,
caught him by the throat and nearly choked the life out of him. Kim
then kicked him desperately in the stomach. Mr Bennett gasped and
doubled up, but without relaxing his grip, rolled over again, and
silently hauled Kim to his own tent. The Mavericks were incurable
practical jokers; and it occurred to the Englishman that silence
was best till he had made complete inquiry.

'Why, it's a boy!' he said, as he drew his prize under the light of
the tent-pole lantern, then shaking him severely cried: 'What were
you doing? You're a thief. Choor? Mallum?' His Hindustani was very
limited, and the ruffled and disgusted Kim intended to keep to the
character laid down for him. As he recovered his breath he was
inventing a beautifully plausible tale of his relations to some
scullion, and at the same time keeping a keen eye on and a little
under the Chaplain's left arm-pit. The chance came; he ducked for
the doorway, but a long arm shot out and clutched at his neck,
snapping the amulet-string and closing on the amulet.

'Give it me. O, give it me. Is it lost? Give me the papers.'

The words were in English - the tinny, saw-cut English of the
native-bred, and the Chaplain jumped.

'A scapular,' said he, opening his hand. 'No, some sort of heathen
charm. Why - why, do you speak English? Little boys who steal are
beaten. You know that?'

'I do not - I did not steal.' Kim danced in agony like a terrier at
a lifted stick. 'Oh, give it me. It is my charm. Do not thieve it
from me.'

The Chaplain took no heed, but, going to the tent door, called
aloud. A fattish, clean-shaven man appeared.

'I want your advice, Father Victor,' said Bennett. 'I found this
boy in the dark outside the Mess-tent. Ordinarily, I should have
chastised him and let him go, because I believe him to be a thief.
But it seems he talks English, and he attaches some sort of value
to a charm round his neck. I thought perhaps you might help me.'

Between himself and the Roman Catholic Chaplain of the Irish
contingent lay, as Bennett believed, an unbridgeable gulf, but it
was noticeable that whenever the Church of England dealt with a
human problem she was very likely to call in the Church of Rome.
Bennett's official abhorrence of the Scarlet Woman and all her ways
was only equalled by his private respect for Father Victor.

'A thief talking English, is it? Let's look at his charm. No, it's
not a scapular, Bennett.' He held out his hand.

'But have we any right to open it? A sound whipping -'

'I did not thieve,' protested Kim. 'You have hit me kicks all over
my body. Now give me my charm and I will go away.'

'Not quite so fast. We'll look first,' said Father Victor,
leisurely rolling out poor Kimball O'Hara's 'ne varietur'
parchment, his clearance-certificate, and Kim's baptismal
certificate. On this last O'Hara - with some confused idea that he
was doing wonders for his son - had scrawled scores of times: 'Look
after the boy. Please look after the boy' - signing his name and
regimental number in full.

'Powers of Darkness below!" said Father Victor, passing all over to
Mr Bennett. 'Do you know what these things are?'

'Yes.' said Kim. 'They are mine, and I want to go away.'

'I do not quite understand,' said Mr Bennett. 'He probably brought
them on purpose. It may be a begging trick of some kind.'

'I never saw a beggar less anxious to stay with his company, then.
There's the makings of a gay mystery here. Ye believe in
Providence, Bennett?'

'I hope so.'

'Well, I believe in miracles, so it comes to the same thing. Powers
of Darkness! Kimball O'Hara! And his son! But then he's a native,
and I saw Kimball married myself to Annie Shott. How long have you
had these things, boy?'

'Ever since I was a little baby.'

Father Victor stepped forward quickly and opened the front of Kim's
upper garment. 'You see, Bennett, he's not very black. What's your
name?'

'Kim.'

'Or Kimball?'

'Perhaps. Will you let me go away?'

'What else?'

'They call me Kim Rishti ke. That is Kim of the Rishti.'

'What is that - "Rishti"?'

'Eye-rishti - that was the Regiment - my father's.'

'Irish - oh, I see.'

'Yess. That was how my father told me. My father, he has lived.'

'Has lived where?'

'Has lived. Of course he is dead - gone-out.'

'Oh! That's your abrupt way of putting it, is it?'

Bennett interrupted. 'It is possible I have done the boy an
injustice. He is certainly white, though evidently neglected. I am
sure I must have bruised him. I do not think spirits -'

'Get him a glass of sherry, then, and let him squat on the cot.
Now, Kim,' continued Father Victor, 'no one is going to hurt you.
Drink that down and tell us about yourself. The truth, if you've no
objection.'

Kim coughed a little as he put down the empty glass, and
considered. This seemed a time for caution and fancy. Small boys
who prowl about camps are generally turned out after a whipping.
But he had received no stripes; the amulet was evidently working in
his favour, and it looked as though the Umballa horoscope and the
few words that he could remember of his father's maunderings fitted
in most miraculously. Else why did the fat padre seem so impressed,
and why the glass of hot yellow drink from the lean one?

'My father, he is dead in Lahore city since I was very little. The
woman, she kept kabarri shop near where the hire-carriages are.'
Kim began with a plunge, not quite sure how far the truth would
serve him.

'Your mother?'

'No!' - with a gesture of disgust. 'She went out when I was born.
My father, he got these papers from the Jadoo-Gher what do you call
that?' (Bennett nodded) 'because he was in good-standing. What do
you call that?' (again Bennett nodded). 'My father told me that. He
said, too, and also the Brahmin who made the drawing in the dust at
Umballa two days ago, he said, that I shall find a Red Bull on a
green field and that the Bull shall help me.'

'A phenomenal little liar,' muttered Bennett.

'Powers of Darkness below, what a country!' murmured Father Victor.
'Go on, Kim.'

'I did not thieve. Besides, I am just now disciple of a very holy
man. He is sitting outside. We saw two men come with flags, making
the place ready. That is always so in a dream, or on account of a -
a - prophecy. So I knew it was come true. I saw the Red Bull on the
green field, and my father he said: "Nine hundred pukka devils and
the Colonel riding on a horse will look after you when you find the
Red Bull!" I did not know what to do when I saw the Bull, but I
went away and I came again when it was dark. I wanted to see the
Bull again, and I saw the Bull again with the - the Sahibs praying
to it. I think the Bull shall help me. The holy man said so too. He
is sitting outside. Will you hurt him, if I call him a shout now?
He is very holy. He can witness to all the things I say, and he
knows I am not a thief.'

'"Sahibs praying to a bull!" What in the world do you make of
that?' said Bennett. "'Disciple of a holy man!" Is the boy mad?'

'It's O'Hara's boy, sure enough. O'Hara's boy leagued with all the
Powers of Darkness. It's very much what his father would have done
if he was drunk. We'd better invite the holy man. He may know
something.'

'He does not know anything,' said Kim. 'I will show you him if you
come. He is my master. Then afterwards we can go.'

'Powers of Darkness!' was all that Father Victor could say, as
Bennett marched off, with a firm hand on Kim's shoulder.

They found the lama where he had dropped.

'The Search is at an end for me,' shouted Kim in the vernacular. 'I
have found the Bull, but God knows what comes next. They will not
hurt you. Come to the fat priest's tent with this thin man and see
the end. It is all new, and they cannot talk Hindi. They are only
uncurried donkeys.'

'Then it is not well to make a jest of their ignorance,' the lama
returned. 'I am glad if thou art rejoiced, chela.'

Dignified and unsuspicious, he strode into the little tent, saluted
the Churches as a Churchman, and sat down by the open charcoal
brazier. The yellow lining of the tent reflected in the lamplight
made his face red-gold.

Bennett looked at him with the triple-ringed uninterest of the
creed that lumps nine-tenths of the world under the title of
'heathen'.

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