Part 3 out of 4
Australian larrikin; a "brumby," with as much breed as the boy; a
brace of chumars in gold-laced caps; three or four ekka-ponies with
hogged manes, and a switch-tailed demirep of a mare called Arab
because she has a kink in her flag. Racing leads to the shroff
quicker than anything else. But if you have no conscience and no
sentiments, and good hands, and some knowledge of pace, and ten
years' experience of horses, and several thousand rupees a month, I
believe that you can occasionally contrive to pay your shoeing-
Did you ever know Shackles--b. w. g., 15.13.8--coarse, loose, mule-
like ears--barrel as long as a gate-post--tough as a telegraph-wire--
and the queerest brute that ever looked through a bridle? He was
of no brand, being one of an ear-nicked mob taken into the
Bucephalus at 4l.-10s. a head to make up freight, and sold raw and
out of condition at Calcutta for Rs. 275. People who lost money on
him called him a "brumby;" but if ever any horse had Harpoon's
shoulders and The Gin's temper, Shackles was that horse. Two miles
was his own particular distance. He trained himself, ran himself,
and rode himself; and, if his jockey insulted him by giving him
hints, he shut up at once and bucked the boy off. He objected to
dictation. Two or three of his owners did not understand this, and
lost money in consequence. At last he was bought by a man who
discovered that, if a race was to be won, Shackles, and Shackles
only, would win it in his own way, so long as his jockey sat still.
This man had a riding-boy called Brunt--a lad from Perth, West
Australia--and he taught Brunt, with a trainer's whip, the hardest
thing a jock can learn--to sit still, to sit still, and to keep on
sitting still. When Brunt fairly grasped this truth, Shackles
devastated the country. No weight could stop him at his own
distance; and The fame of Shackles spread from Ajmir in the South,
to Chedputter in the North. There was no horse like Shackles, so
long as he was allowed to do his work in his own way. But he was
beaten in the end; and the story of his fall is enough to make
At the lower end of the Chedputter racecourse, just before the turn
into the straight, the track passes close to a couple of old brick-
mounds enclosing a funnel-shaped hollow. The big end of the funnel
is not six feet from the railings on the off-side. The astounding
peculiarity of the course is that, if you stand at one particular
place, about half a mile away, inside the course, and speak at an
ordinary pitch, your voice just hits the funnel of the brick-mounds
and makes a curious whining echo there. A man discovered this one
morning by accident while out training with a friend. He marked the
place to stand and speak from with a couple of bricks, and he kept
his knowledge to himself. EVERY peculiarity of a course is worth
remembering in a country where rats play the mischief with the
elephant-litter, and Stewards build jumps to suit their own stables.
This man ran a very fairish country-bred, a long, racking high mare
with the temper of a fiend, and the paces of an airy wandering
seraph--a drifty, glidy stretch. The mare was, as a delicate
tribute to Mrs. Reiver, called "The Lady Regula Baddun"--or for
short, Regula Baddun.
Shackles' jockey, Brunt, was a quiet, well-behaved boy, but his
nerves had been shaken. He began his career by riding jump-races in
Melbourne, where a few Stewards want lynching, and was one of the
jockeys who came through the awful butchery--perhaps you will
recollect it--of the Maribyrnong Plate. The walls were colonial
ramparts--logs of jarrak spiked into masonry--with wings as strong
as Church buttresses. Once in his stride, a horse had to jump or
fall. He couldn't run out. In the Maribyrnong Plate, twelve horses
were jammed at the second wall. Red Hat, leading, fell this side,
and threw out The Glen, and the ruck came up behind and the space
between wing and wing was one struggling, screaming, kicking
shambles. Four jockeys were taken out dead; three were very badly
hurt, and Brunt was among the three. He told the story of the
Maribyrnong Plate sometimes; and when he described how Whalley on
Red Hat, said, as the mare fell under him:--"God ha' mercy, I'm done
for!" and how, next instant, Sithee There and White Otter had
crushed the life out of poor Whalley, and the dust hid a small hell
of men and horses, no one marvelled that Brunt had dropped jump-
races and Australia together. Regula Baddun's owner knew that story
by heart. Brunt never varied it in the telling. He had no
Shackles came to the Chedputter Autumn races one year, and his owner
walked about insulting the sportsmen of Chedputter generally, till
they went to the Honorary Secretary in a body and said:--"Appoint
Handicappers, and arrange a race which shall break Shackles and
humble the pride of his owner." The Districts rose against Shackles
and sent up of their best; Ousel, who was supposed to be able to do
his mile in 1-53; Petard, the stud-bred, trained by a cavalry
regiment who knew how to train; Gringalet, the ewe-lamb of the 75th;
Bobolink, the pride of Peshawar; and many others.
They called that race The Broken-Link Handicap, because it was to
smash Shackles; and the Handicappers piled on the weights, and the
Fund gave eight hundred rupees, and the distance was "round the
course for all horses." Shackles' owner said:--"You can arrange the
race with regard to Shackles only. So long as you don't bury him
under weight-cloths, I don't mind. Regula Baddun's owner said:--"I
throw in my mare to fret Ousel. Six furlongs is Regula's distance,
and she will then lie down and die. So also will Ousel, for his
jockey doesn't understand a waiting race." Now, this was a lie, for
Regula had been in work for two months at Dehra, and her chances
were good, always supposing that Shackles broke a blood-vessel--OR
BRUNT MOVED ON HIM.
The plunging in the lotteries was fine. They filled eight thousand-
rupee lotteries on the Broken Link Handicap, and the account in the
Pioneer said that "favoritism was divided." In plain English, the
various contingents were wild on their respective horses; for the
Handicappers had done their work well. The Honorary Secretary
shouted himself hoarse through the din; and the smoke of the
cheroots was like the smoke, and the rattling of the dice-boxes like
the rattle of small-arm fire.
Ten horses started--very level--and Regula Baddun's owner cantered
out on his back to a place inside the circle of the course, where
two bricks had been thrown. He faced towards 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 fifteen thousand.
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
BEYOND THE PALE.
"Love heeds not caste nor sleep a broken bed. I went in search of
love and lost myself."
A man should, whatever happens, keep to his own caste, race and
breed. Let the White go to the White and the Black to the Black.
Then, whatever trouble falls is in the ordinary course of things--
neither sudden, alien, nor unexpected.
This is the story of a man who wilfully stepped beyond the safe
limits of decent every-day society, and paid for it heavily.
He knew too much in the first instance; and he saw too much in the
second. He took too deep an interest in native life; but he will
never do so again.
Deep away in the heart of the City, behind Jitha Megji's bustee,
lies Amir Nath's Gully, which ends in a dead-wall pierced by one
grated window. At the head of the Gully is a big cow-byre, and the
walls on either side of the Gully are without windows. Neither
Suchet Singh nor Gaur Chand approved of their women-folk looking
into the world. If Durga Charan had been of their opinion, he would
have been a happier man to-day, and little Biessa would have been
able to knead her own bread. Her room looked out through the grated
window into the narrow dark Gully where the sun never came and where
the buffaloes wallowed in the blue slime. She was a widow, about
fifteen years old, and she prayed the Gods, day and night, to send
her a lover; for she did not approve of living alone.
One day the man--Trejago his name was--came into Amir Nath's Gully
on an aimless wandering; and, after he had passed the buffaloes,
stumbled over a big heap of cattle food.
Then he saw that the Gully ended in a trap, and heard a little laugh
from behind the grated window. It was a pretty little laugh, and
Trejago, knowing that, for all practical purposes, the old Arabian
Nights are good guides, went forward to the window, and whispered
that verse of "The Love Song of Har Dyal" which begins:
Can a man stand upright in the face of the naked Sun;
or a Lover in the Presence of his Beloved?
If my feet fail me, O Heart of my Heart, am I to blame,
being blinded by the glimpse of your beauty?
There came the faint tchinks of a woman's bracelets from behind the
grating, and a little voice went on with the song at the fifth
Alas! alas! Can the Moon tell the Lotus of her love when the
Gate of Heaven is shut and the clouds gather for the rains?
They have taken my Beloved, and driven her with the pack-horses
to the North.
There are iron chains on the feet that were set on my heart.
Call to the bowman to make ready--
The voice stopped suddenly, and Trejago walked out of Amir Nath's
Gully, wondering who in the world could have capped "The Love Song
of Har Dyal" so neatly.
Next morning, as he was driving to the office, an old woman threw a
packet into his dog-cart. In the packet was the half of a broken
glass bangle, one flower of the blood red dhak, a pinch of bhusa or
cattle-food, and eleven cardamoms. That packet was a letter--not a
clumsy compromising letter, but an innocent, unintelligible lover's
Trejago knew far too much about these things, as I have said. No
Englishman should be able to translate object-letters. But Trejago
spread all the trifles on the lid of his office-box and began to
puzzle them out.
A broken glass-bangle stands for a Hindu widow all India over;
because, when her husband dies a woman's bracelets are broken on her
wrists. Trejago saw the meaning of the little bit of the glass.
The flower of the dhak means diversely "desire," "come," "write," or
"danger," according to the other things with it. One cardamom means
"jealousy;" but when any article is duplicated in an object-letter,
it loses its symbolic meaning and stands merely for one of a number
indicating time, or, if incense, curds, or saffron be sent also,
place. The message ran then:--"A widow dhak flower and bhusa--at
eleven o'clock." The pinch of bhusa enlightened Trejago. He saw--
this kind of letter leaves much to instinctive knowledge--that the
bhusa referred to the big heap of cattle-food over which he had
fallen in Amir Nath's Gully, and that the message must come from the
person behind the grating; she being a widow. So the message ran
then:--"A widow, in the Gully in which is the heap of bhusa, desires
you to come at eleven o'clock."
Trejago threw all the rubbish into the fireplace and laughed. He
knew that men in the East do not make love under windows at eleven
in the forenoon, nor do women fix appointments a week in advance.
So he went, that very night at eleven, into Amir Nath's Gully, clad
in a boorka, which cloaks a man as well as a woman. Directly the
gongs in the City made the hour, the little voice behind the grating
took up "The Love Song of Har Dyal" at the verse where the Panthan
girl calls upon Har Dyal to return. The song is really pretty in
the Vernacular. In English you miss the wail of it. It runs
something like this:--
Alone upon the housetops, to the North
I turn and watch the lightning in the sky,--
The glamour of thy footsteps in the North,
Come back to me, Beloved, or I die!
Below my feet the still bazar is laid
Far, far below the weary camels lie,--
The camels and the captives of thy raid,
Come back to me, Beloved, or I die!
My father's wife is old and harsh with years,
And drudge of all my father's house am I.--
My bread is sorrow and my drink is tears,
Come back to me, Beloved, or I die!
As the song stopped, Trejago stepped up under the grating and
whispered:--"I am here."
Bisesa was good to look upon.
That night was the beginning of many strange things, and of a double
life so wild that Trejago to-day sometimes wonders if it were not
all a dream. Bisesa or her old handmaiden who had thrown the
object-letter had detached the heavy grating from the brick-work of
the wall; so that the window slid inside, leaving only a square of
raw masonry, into which an active man might climb.
In the day-time, Trejago drove through his routine of office-work,
or put on his calling-clothes and called on the ladies of the
Station; wondering how long they would know him if they knew of poor
little Bisesa. At night, when all the City was still, came the walk
under the evil-smelling boorka, the patrol through Jitha Megji's
bustee, the quick turn into Amir Nath's Gully between the sleeping
cattle and the dead walls, and then, last of all, Bisesa, and the
deep, even breathing of the old woman who slept outside the door of
the bare little room that Durga Charan allotted to his sister's
daughter. Who or what Durga Charan was, Trejago never inquired; and
why in the world he was not discovered and knifed never occurred to
him till his madness was over, and Bisesa . . . But this comes
Bisesa was an endless delight to Trejago. She was as ignorant as a
bird; and her distorted versions of the rumors from the outside
world that had reached her in her room, amused Trejago almost as
much as her lisping attempts to pronounce his name--"Christopher."
The first syllable was always more than she could manage, and she
made funny little gestures with her rose-leaf hands, as one throwing
the name away, and then, kneeling before Trejago, asked him, exactly
as an Englishwoman would do, if he were sure he loved her. Trejago
swore that he loved her more than any one else in the world. Which
After a month of this folly, the exigencies of his other life
compelled Trejago to be especially attentive to a lady of his
acquaintance. You may take it for a fact that anything of this kind
is not only noticed and discussed by a man's own race, but by some
hundred and fifty natives as well. Trejago had to walk with this
lady and talk to her at the Band-stand, and once or twice to drive
with her; never for an instant dreaming that this would affect his
dearer out-of-the-way life. But the news flew, in the usual
mysterious fashion, from mouth to mouth, till Bisesa's duenna heard
of it and told Bisesa. The child was so troubled that she did the
household work evilly, and was beaten by Durga Charan's wife in
A week later, Bisesa taxed Trejago with the flirtation. She
understood no gradations and spoke openly. Trejago laughed and
Bisesa stamped her little feet--little feet, light as marigold
flowers, that could lie in the palm of a man's one hand.
Much that is written about "Oriental passion and impulsiveness" is
exaggerated and compiled at second-hand, but a little of it is true;
and when an Englishman finds that little, it is quite as startling
as any passion in his own proper life. Bisesa raged and stormed,
and finally threatened to kill herself if Trejago did not at once
drop the alien Memsahib who had come between them. Trejago tried to
explain, and to show her that she did not understand these things
from a Western standpoint. Bisesa drew herself up, and said simply:
"I do not. I know only this--it is not good that I should have made
you dearer than my own heart to me, Sahib. You are an Englishman.
I am only a black girl"--she was fairer than bar-gold in the Mint--
"and the widow of a black man."
Then she sobbed and said: "But on my soul and my Mother's soul, I
love you. There shall no harm come to you, whatever happens to me."
Trejago argued with the child, and tried to soothe her, but she
seemed quite unreasonably disturbed. Nothing would satisfy her save
that all relations between them should end. He was to go away at
once. And he went. As he dropped out at the window, she kissed his
forehead twice, and he walked away wondering.
A week, and then three weeks, passed without a sign from Bisesa.
Trejago, thinking that the rupture had lasted quite long enough,
went down to Amir Nath's Gully for the fifth time in the three
weeks, hoping that his rap at the sill of the shifting grating would
be answered. He was not disappointed.
There was a young moon, and one stream of light fell down into Amir
Nath's Gully, and struck the grating, which was drawn away as he
knocked. From the black dark, Bisesa held out her arms into the
moonlight. Both hands had been cut off at the wrists, and the
stumps were nearly healed.
Then, as Bisesa bowed her head between her arms and sobbed, some one
in the room grunted like a wild beast, and something sharp--knife,
sword or spear--thrust at Trejago in his boorka. The stroke missed
his body, but cut into one of the muscles of the groin, and he
limped slightly from the wound for the rest of his days.
The grating went into its place. There was no sign whatever from
inside the house--nothing but the moonlight strip on the high wall,
and the blackness of Amir Nath's Gully behind.
The next thing Trejago remembers, after raging and shouting like a
madman between those pitiless walls, is that he found himself near
the river as the dawn was breaking, threw away his boorka and went
What the tragedy was--whether Bisesa had, in a fit of causeless
despair, told everything, or the intrigue had been discovered and
she tortured to tell, whether Durga Charan knew his name, and what
became of Bisesa--Trejago does not know to this day. Something
horrible had happened, and the thought of what it must have been
comes upon Trejago in the night now and again, and keeps him company
till the morning. One special feature of the case is that he does
not know where lies the front of Durga Charan's house. It may open
on to a courtyard common to two or more houses, or it may lie behind
any one of the gates of Jitha Megji's bustee. Trejago cannot tell.
He cannot get Bisesa--poor little Bisesa--back again. He has lost
her in the City, where each man's house is as guarded and as
unknowable as the grave; and the grating that opens into Amir Nath's
Gully has been walled up.
But Trejago pays his calls regularly, and is reckoned a very decent
sort of man.
There is nothing peculiar about him, except a slight stiffness,
caused by a riding-strain, in the right leg.
They burnt a corpse upon the sand--
The light shone out afar;
It guided home the plunging boats
That beat from Zanzibar.
Spirit of Fire, where'er Thy altars rise.
Thou art Light of Guidance to our eyes!
There is hope for a man who gets publicly and riotously drunk more
often that he ought to do; but there is no hope for the man who
drinks secretly and alone in his own house--the man who is never
seen to drink.
This is a rule; so there must be an exception to prove it.
Moriarty's case was that exception.
He was a Civil Engineer, and the Government, very kindly, put him
quite by himself in an out-district, with nobody but natives to talk
to and a great deal of work to do. He did his work well in the four
years he was utterly alone; but he picked up the vice of secret and
solitary drinking, and came up out of the wilderness more old and
worn and haggard than the dead-alive life had any right to make him.
You know the saying that a man who has been alone in the jungle for
more than a year is never quite sane all his life after. People
credited Moriarty's queerness of manner and moody ways to the
solitude, and said it showed how Government spoilt the futures of
its best men. Moriarty had built himself the plinth of a very god
reputation in the bridge-dam-girder line. But he knew, every night
of the week, that he was taking steps to undermine that reputation
with L. L. L. and "Christopher" and little nips of liqueurs, and
filth of that kind. He had a sound constitution and a great brain,
or else he would have broken down and died like a sick camel in the
district, as better men have done before him.
Government ordered him to Simla after he had come out of the desert;
and he went up meaning to try for a post then vacant. That season,
Mrs. Reiver--perhaps you will remember her--was in the height of her
power, and many men lay under her yoke. Everything bad that could
be said has already been said about Mrs. Reiver, in another tale.
Moriarty was heavily-built and handsome, very quiet and nervously
anxious to please his neighbors when he wasn't sunk in a brown
study. He started a good deal at sudden noises or if spoken to
without warning; and, when you watched him drinking his glass of
water at dinner, you could see the hand shake a little. But all
this was put down to nervousness, and the quiet, steady, "sip-sip-
sip, fill and sip-sip-sip, again," that went on in his own room when
he was by himself, was never known. Which was miraculous, seeing
how everything in a man's private life is public property out here.
Moriarty was drawn, not into Mrs. Reiver's set, because they were
not his sort, but into the power of Mrs. Reiver, and he fell down in
front of her and made a goddess of her. This was due to his coming
fresh out of the jungle to a big town. He could not scale things
properly or see who was what.
Because Mrs. Reiver was cold and hard, he said she was stately and
dignified. Because she had no brains, and could not talk cleverly,
he said she was reserved and shy. Mrs. Reiver shy! Because she was
unworthy of honor or reverence from any one, he reverenced her from
a distance and dowered her with all the virtues in the Bible and
most of those in Shakespeare.
This big, dark, abstracted man who was so nervous when a pony
cantered behind him, used to moon in the train of Mrs. Reiver,
blushing with pleasure when she threw a word or two his way. His
admiration was strictly platonic: even other women saw and admitted
this. He did not move out in Simla, so he heard nothing against his
idol: which was satisfactory. Mrs. Reiver took no special notice of
him, beyond seeing that he was added to her list of admirers, and
going for a walk with him now and then, just to show that he was her
property, claimable as such. Moriarty must have done most of the
talking, for Mrs. Reiver couldn't talk much to a man of his stamp;
and the little she said could not have been profitable. What
Moriarty believed in, as he had good reason to, was Mrs. Reiver's
influence over him, and, in that belief, set himself seriously to
try to do away with the vice that only he himself knew of.
His experiences while he was fighting with it must have been
peculiar, but he never described them. Sometimes he would hold off
from everything except water for a week. Then, on a rainy night,
when no one had asked him out to dinner, and there was a big fire in
his room, and everything comfortable, he would sit down and make a
big night of it by adding little nip to little nip, planning big
schemes of reformation meanwhile, until he threw himself on his bed
hopelessly drunk. He suffered next morning.
One night, the big crash came. He was troubled in his own mind over
his attempts to make himself "worthy of the friendship" of Mrs.
Reiver. The past ten days had been very bad ones, and the end of it
all was that he received the arrears of two and three-quarter years
of sipping in one attack of delirium tremens of the subdued kind;
beginning with suicidal depression, going on to fits and starts and
hysteria, and ending with downright raving. As he sat in a chair in
front of the fire, or walked up and down the room picking a
handkerchief to pieces, you heard what poor Moriarty really thought
of Mrs. Reiver, for he raved about her and his own fall for the most
part; though he ravelled some P. W. D. accounts into the same skein
of thought. He talked, and talked, and talked in a low dry whisper
to himself, and there was no stopping him. He seemed to know that
there was something wrong, and twice tried to pull himself together
and confer rationally with the Doctor; but his mind ran out of
control at once, and he fell back to a whisper and the story of his
troubles. It is terrible to hear a big man babbling like a child of
all that a man usually locks up, and puts away in the deep of his
heart. Moriarty read out his very soul for the benefit of any one
who was in the room between ten-thirty that night and two-forty-five
From what he said, one gathered how immense an influence Mrs. Reiver
held over him, and how thoroughly he felt for his own lapse. His
whisperings cannot, of course, be put down here; but they were very
instructive as showing the errors of his estimates.
. . . . . . . . .
When the trouble was over, and his few acquaintances were pitying
him for the bad attack of jungle-fever that had so pulled him down,
Moriarty swore a big oath to himself and went abroad again with Mrs.
Reiver till the end of the season, adoring her in a quiet and
deferential way as an angel from heaven. Later on he took to
riding--not hacking, but honest riding--which was good proof that he
was improving, and you could slam doors behind him without his
jumping to his feet with a gasp. That, again, was hopeful.
How he kept his oath, and what it cost him in the beginning, nobody
knows. He certainly managed to compass the hardest thing that a man
who has drank heavily can do. He took his peg and wine at dinner,
but he never drank alone, and never let what he drank have the least
hold on him.
Once he told a bosom-friend the story of his great trouble, and how
the "influence of a pure honest woman, and an angel as well" had
saved him. When the man--startled at anything good being laid to
Mrs. Reiver's door--laughed, it cost him Moriarty's friendship.
Moriarty, who is married now to a woman ten thousand times better
than Mrs. Reiver--a woman who believes that there is no man on earth
as good and clever as her husband--will go down to his grave vowing
and protesting that Mrs. Reiver saved him from ruin in both worlds.
That she knew anything of Moriarty's weakness nobody believed for a
moment. That she would have cut him dead, thrown him over, and
acquainted all her friends with her discovery, if she had known of
it, nobody who knew her doubted for an instant.
Moriarty thought her something she never was, and in that belief
saved himself. Which was just as good as though she had been
everything that he had imagined.
But the question is, what claim will Mrs. Reiver have to the credit
of Moriarty's salvation, when her day of reckoning comes?
A BANK FRAUD.
He drank strong waters and his speech was coarse;
He purchased raiment and forebore to pay;
He struck a trusting junior with a horse,
And won Gymkhanas in a doubtful way.
Then, 'twixt a vice and folly, turned aside
To do good deeds and straight to cloak them, lied.
The Mess Room.
If Reggie Burke were in India now, he would resent this tale being
told; but as he is in Hong-Kong and won't see it, the telling is
safe. He was the man who worked the big fraud on the Sind and
Sialkote Bank. He was manager of an up-country Branch, and a sound
practical man with a large experience of native loan and insurance
work. He could combine the frivolities of ordinary life with his
work, and yet do well. Reggie Burke rode anything that would let
him get up, danced as neatly as he rode, and was wanted for every
sort of amusement in the Station.
As he said himself, and as many men found out rather to their
surprise, there were two Burkes, both very much at your service.
"Reggie Burke," between four and ten, ready for anything from a hot-
weather gymkhana to a riding-picnic; and, between ten and four, "Mr.
Reginald Burke, Manager of the Sind and Sialkote Branch Bank." You
might play polo with him one afternoon and hear him express his
opinions when a man crossed; and you might call on him next morning
to raise a two-thousand rupee loan on a five hundred pound
insurance-policy, eighty pounds paid in premiums. He would
recognize you, but you would have some trouble in recognizing him.
The Directors of the Bank--it had its headquarters in Calcutta and
its General Manager's word carried weight with the Government--
picked their men well. They had tested Reggie up to a fairly severe
breaking-strain. They trusted him just as much as Directors ever
trust Managers. You must see for yourself whether their trust was
Reggie's Branch was in a big Station, and worked with the usual
staff--one Manager, one Accountant, both English, a Cashier, and a
horde of native clerks; besides the Police patrol at nights outside.
The bulk of its work, for it was in a thriving district, was hoondi
and accommodation of all kinds. A fool has no grip of this sort of
business; and a clever man who does not go about among his clients,
and know more than a little of their affairs, is worse than a fool.
Reggie was young-looking, clean-shaved, with a twinkle in his eye,
and a head that nothing short of a gallon of the Gunners' Madeira
could make any impression on.
One day, at a big dinner, he announced casually that the Directors
had shifted on to him a Natural Curiosity, from England, in the
Accountant line. He was perfectly correct. Mr. Silas Riley,
Accountant, was a MOST curious animal--a long, gawky, rawboned
Yorkshireman, full of the savage self-conceit that blossom's only in
the best county in England. Arrogance was a mild word for the
mental attitude of Mr. S. Riley. He had worked himself up, after
seven years, to a Cashier's position in a Huddersfield Bank; and all
his experience lay among the factories of the North. Perhaps he
would have done better on the Bombay side, where they are happy with
one-half per cent. profits, and money is cheap. He was useless for
Upper India and a wheat Province, where a man wants a large head and
a touch of imagination if he is to turn out a satisfactory balance-
He was wonderfully narrow-minded in business, and, being new to the
country, had no notion that Indian banking is totally distinct from
Home work. Like most clever self-made men, he had much simplicity
in his nature; and, somehow or other, had construed the ordinarily
polite terms of his letter of engagement into a belief that the
Directors had chosen him on account of his special and brilliant
talents, and that they set great store by him. This notion grew and
crystallized; thus adding to his natural North-country conceit.
Further, he was delicate, suffered from some trouble in his chest,
and was short in his temper.
You will admit that Reggie had reason to call his new Accountant a
Natural Curiosity. The two men failed to hit it off at all. Riley
considered Reggie a wild, feather-headed idiot, given to Heaven only
knew what dissipation in low places called "Messes," and totally
unfit for the serious and solemn vocation of banking. He could
never get over Reggie's look of youth and "you-be-damned" air; and
he couldn't understand Reggie's friends--clean-built, careless men
in the Army--who rode over to big Sunday breakfasts at the Bank, and
told sultry stories till Riley got up and left the room. Riley was
always showing Reggie how the business ought to be conducted, and
Reggie had more than once to remind him that seven years' limited
experience between Huddersfield and Beverly did not qualify a man to
steer a big up-country business. Then Riley sulked and referred to
himself as a pillar of the Bank and a cherished friend of the
Directors, and Reggie tore his hair. If a man's English
subordinates fail him in this country, he comes to a hard time
indeed, for native help has strict limitations. In the winter Riley
went sick for weeks at a time with his lung complaint, and this
threw more work on Reggie. But he preferred it to the everlasting
friction when Riley was well.
One of the Travelling Inspectors of the Bank discovered these
collapses and reported them to the Directors. Now Riley had been
foisted on the Bank by an M. P., who wanted the support of Riley's
father, who, again, was anxious to get his son out to a warmer
climate because of those lungs. The M. P. had an interest in the
Bank; but one of the Directors wanted to advance a nominee of his
own; and, after Riley's father had died, he made the rest of the
Board see that an Accountant who was sick for half the year, had
better give place to a healthy man. If Riley had known the real
story of his appointment, he might have behaved better; but knowing
nothing, his stretches of sickness alternated with restless,
persistent, meddling irritation of Reggie, and all the hundred ways
in which conceit in a subordinate situation can find play. Reggie
used to call him striking and hair-curling names behind his back as
a relief to his own feelings; but he never abused him to his face,
because he said: "Riley is such a frail beast that half of his
loathsome conceit is due to pains in the chest."
Late one April, Riley went very sick indeed. The doctor punched him
and thumped him, and told him he would be better before long. Then
the doctor went to Reggie and said:--"Do you know how sick your
Accountant is?" "No!" said Reggie--"The worse the better, confound
him! He's a clacking nuisance when he's well. I'll let you take
away the Bank Safe if you can drug him silent for this hot-weather."
But the doctor did not laugh--"Man, I'm not joking," he said. "I'll
give him another three months in his bed and a week or so more to
die in. On my honor and reputation that's all the grace he has in
this world. Consumption has hold of him to the marrow."
Reggie's face changed at once into the face of "Mr. Reginald Burke,"
and he answered:--"What can I do?"
"Nothing," said the doctor. "For all practical purposes the man is
dead already. Keep him quiet and cheerful and tell him he's going
to recover. That's all. I'll look after him to the end, of
The doctor went away, and Reggie sat down to open the evening mail.
His first letter was one from the Directors, intimating for his
information that Mr. Riley was to resign, under a month's notice, by
the terms of his agreement, telling Reggie that their letter to
Riley would follow and advising Reggie of the coming of a new
Accountant, a man whom Reggie knew and liked.
Reggie lit a cheroot, and, before he had finished smoking, he had
sketched the outline of a fraud. He put away--"burked"--the
Directors letter, and went in to talk to Riley, who was as
ungracious as usual, and fretting himself over the way the bank
would run during his illness. He never thought of the extra work on
Reggie's shoulders, but solely of the damage to his own prospects of
advancement. Then Reggie assured him that everything would be well,
and that he, Reggie, would confer with Riley daily on the management
of the Bank. Riley was a little soothed, but he hinted in as many
words that he did not think much of Reggie's business capacity.
Reggie was humble. And he had letters in his desk from the
Directors that a Gilbarte or a Hardie might have been proud of!
The days passed in the big darkened house, and the Directors' letter
of dismissal to Riley came and was put away by Reggie, who, every
evening, brought the books to Riley's room, and showed him what had
been going forward, while Riley snarled. Reggie did his best to
make statements pleasing to Riley, but the Accountant was sure that
the Bank was going to rack and ruin without him. In June, as the
lying in bed told on his spirit, he asked whether his absence had
been noted by the Directors, and Reggie said that they had written
most sympathetic letters, hoping that he would be able to resume his
valuable services before long. He showed Riley the letters: and
Riley said that the Directors ought to have written to him direct.
A few days later, Reggie opened Riley's mail in the half-light of
the room, and gave him the sheet--not the envelope--of a letter to
Riley from the Directors. Riley said he would thank Reggie not to
interfere with his private papers, specially as Reggie knew he was
too weak to open his own letters. Reggie apologized.
Then Riley's mood changed, and he lectured Reggie on his evil ways:
his horses and his bad friends. "Of course, lying here on my back,
Mr. Burke, I can't keep you straight; but when I'm well, I DO hope
you'll pay some heed to my words." Reggie, who had dropped polo,
and dinners, and tennis, and all to attend to Riley, said that he
was penitent and settled Riley's head on the pillow and heard him
fret and contradict in hard, dry, hacking whispers, without a sign
of impatience. This at the end of a heavy day's office work, doing
double duty, in the latter half of June.
When the new Accountant came, Reggie told him the facts of the case,
and announced to Riley that he had a guest staying with him. Riley
said that he might have had more consideration than to entertain his
"doubtful friends" at such a time. Reggie made Carron, the new
Accountant, sleep at the Club in consequence. Carron's arrival took
some of the heavy work off his shoulders, and he had time to attend
to Riley's exactions--to explain, soothe, invent, and settle and
resettle the poor wretch in bed, and to forge complimentary letters
from Calcutta. At the end of the first month, Riley wished to send
some money home to his mother. Reggie sent the draft. At the end
of the second month, Riley's salary came in just the same. Reggie
paid it out of his own pocket; and, with it, wrote Riley a beautiful
letter from the Directors.
Riley was very ill indeed, but the flame of his life burnt
unsteadily. Now and then he would be cheerful and confident about
the future, sketching plans for going Home and seeing his mother.
Reggie listened patiently when the office work was over, and
At other times Riley insisted on Reggie's reading the Bible and grim
"Methody" tracts to him. Out of these tracts he pointed morals
directed at his Manager. But he always found time to worry Reggie
about the working of the Bank, and to show him where the weak points
This in-door, sick-room life and constant strains wore Reggie down a
good deal, and shook his nerves, and lowered his billiard-play by
forty points. But the business of the Bank, and the business of the
sick-room, had to go on, though the glass was 116 degrees in the
At the end of the third month, Riley was sinking fast, and had begun
to realize that he was very sick. But the conceit that made him
worry Reggie, kept him from believing the worst. "He wants some
sort of mental stimulant if he is to drag on," said the doctor.
"Keep him interested in life if you care about his living." So
Riley, contrary to all the laws of business and the finance,
received a 25-per-cent, rise of salary from the Directors. The
"mental stimulant" succeeded beautifully. Riley was happy and
cheerful, and, as is often the case in consumption, healthiest in
mind when the body was weakest. He lingered for a full month,
snarling and fretting about the Bank, talking of the future, hearing
the Bible read, lecturing Reggie on sin, and wondering when he would
be able to move abroad.
But at the end of September, one mercilessly hot evening, he rose up
in his bed with a little gasp, and said quickly to Reggie:--"Mr.
Burke, I am going to die. I know it in myself. My chest is all
hollow inside, and there's nothing to breathe with. To the best of
my knowledge I have done nowt"--he was returning to the talk of his
boyhood--"to lie heavy on my conscience. God be thanked, I have
been preserved from the grosser forms of sin; and I counsel YOU, Mr.
Burke . . . ."
Here his voice died down, and Reggie stooped over him.
"Send my salary for September to my mother. . . . done great things
with the Bank if I had been spared . . . . mistaken policy . . . .
no fault of mine."
Then he turned his face to the wall and died.
Reggie drew the sheet over Its face, and went out into the verandah,
with his last "mental stimulant"--a letter of condolence and
sympathy from the Directors--unused in his pocket.
"If I'd been only ten minutes earlier," thought Reggie, "I might
have heartened him up to pull through another day."
The World hath set its heavy yoke
Upon the old white-bearded folk
Who strive to please the King.
God's mercy is upon the young,
God's wisdom in the baby tongue
That fears not anything.
The Parable of Chajju Bhagat.
Now Tods' Mamma was a singularly charming woman, and every one in
Simla knew Tods. Most men had saved him from death on occasions.
He was beyond his ayah's control altogether, and perilled his life
daily to find out what would happen if you pulled a Mountain Battery
mule's tail. He was an utterly fearless young Pagan, about six
years old, and the only baby who ever broke the holy calm of the
supreme Legislative Council.
It happened this way: Tods' pet kid got loose, and fled up the hill,
off the Boileaugunge Road, Tods after it, until it burst into the
Viceregal Lodge lawn, then attached to "Peterhoff." The Council
were sitting at the time, and the windows were open because it was
warm. The Red Lancer in the porch told Tods to go away; but Tods
knew the Red Lancer and most of the Members of Council personally.
Moreover, he had firm hold of the kid's collar, and was being
dragged all across the flower-beds. "Give my salaam to the long
Councillor Sahib, and ask him to help me take Moti back!" gasped
Tods. The Council heard the noise through the open windows; and,
after an interval, was seen the shocking spectacle of a Legal Member
and a Lieutenant-Governor helping, under the direct patronage of a
Commander-in-Chief and a Viceroy, one small and very dirty boy in a
sailor's suit and a tangle of brown hair, to coerce a lively and
rebellious kid. They headed it off down the path to the Mall, and
Tods went home in triumph and told his Mamma that ALL the Councillor
Sahibs had been helping him to catch Moti. Whereat his Mamma
smacked Tods for interfering with the administration of the Empire;
but Tods met the Legal Member the next day, and told him in
confidence that if the Legal Member ever wanted to catch a goat, he,
Tods, would give him all the help in his power. "Thank you, Tods,"
said the Legal Member.
Tods was the idol of some eighty jhampanis, and half as many saises.
He saluted them all as "O Brother." It never entered his head that
any living human being could disobey his orders; and he was the
buffer between the servants and his Mamma's wrath. The working of
that household turned on Tods, who was adored by every one from the
dhoby to the dog-boy. Even Futteh Khan, the villainous loafer khit
from Mussoorie, shirked risking Tods' displeasure for fear his co-
mates should look down on him.
So Tods had honor in the land from Boileaugunge to Chota Simla, and
ruled justly according to his lights. Of course, he spoke Urdu, but
he had also mastered many queer side-speeches like the chotee bolee
of the women, and held grave converse with shopkeepers and Hill-
coolies alike. He was precocious for his age, and his mixing with
natives had taught him some of the more bitter truths of life; the
meanness and the sordidness of it. He used, over his bread and
milk, to deliver solemn and serious aphorisms, translated from the
vernacular into the English, that made his Mamma jump and vow that
Tods MUST go home next hot weather.
Just when Tods was in the bloom of his power, the Supreme
Legislature were hacking out a Bill, for the Sub-Montane Tracts, a
revision of the then Act, smaller than the Punjab Land Bill, but
affecting a few hundred thousand people none the less. The Legal
Member had built, and bolstered, and embroidered, and amended that
Bill, till it looked beautiful on paper. Then the Council began to
settle what they called the "minor details." As if any Englishman
legislating for natives knows enough to know which are the minor and
which are the major points, from the native point of view, of any
measure! That Bill was a triumph of "safe guarding the interests of
the tenant." One clause provided that land should not be leased on
longer terms than five years at a stretch; because, if the landlord
had a tenant bound down for, say, twenty years, he would squeeze the
very life out of him. The notion was to keep up a stream of
independent cultivators in the Sub-Montane Tracts; and
ethnologically and politically the notion was correct. The only
drawback was that it was altogether wrong. A native's life in India
implies the life of his son. Wherefore, you cannot legislate for
one generation at a time. You must consider the next from the
native point of view. Curiously enough, the native now and then,
and in Northern India more particularly, hates being over-protected
against himself. There was a Naga village once, where they lived on
dead AND buried Commissariat mules . . . . But that is another
For many reasons, to be explained later, the people concerned
objected to the Bill. The Native Member in Council knew as much
about Punjabis as he knew about Charing Cross. He had said in
Calcutta that "the Bill was entirely in accord with the desires of
that large and important class, the cultivators;" and so on, and so
on. The Legal Member's knowledge of natives was limited to English-
speaking Durbaris, and his own red chaprassis, the Sub-Montane
Tracts concerned no one in particular, the Deputy Commissioners were
a good deal too driven to make representations, and the measure was
one which dealt with small landholders only. Nevertheless, the
Legal Member prayed that it might be correct, for he was a nervously
conscientious man. He did not know that no man can tell what
natives think unless he mixes with them with the varnish off. And
not always then. But he did the best he knew. And the measure came
up to the Supreme Council for the final touches, while Tods
patrolled the Burra Simla Bazar in his morning rides, and played
with the monkey belonging to Ditta Mull, the bunnia, and listened,
as a child listens to all the stray talk about this new freak of the
One day there was a dinner-party, at the house of Tods' Mamma, and
the Legal Member came. Tods was in bed, but he kept awake till he
heard the bursts of laughter from the men over the coffee. Then he
paddled out in his little red flannel dressing-gown and his night-
suit, and took refuge by the side of his father, knowing that he
would not be sent back. "See the miseries of having a family!" said
Tods' father, giving Tods three prunes, some water in a glass that
had been used for claret, and telling him to sit still. Tods sucked
the prunes slowly, knowing that he would have to go when they were
finished, and sipped the pink water like a man of the world, as he
listened to the conversation. Presently, the Legal Member, talking
"shop," to the Head of a Department, mentioned his Bill by its full
name--"The Sub-Montane Tracts Ryotwari Revised Enactment." Tods
caught the one native word, and lifting up his small voice said:--
"Oh, I know ALL about that! Has it been murramutted yet, Councillor
"How much?" said the Legal Member.
"Murramutted--mended.--Put theek, you know--made nice to please
The Legal Member left his place and moved up next to Tods.
"What do you know about Ryotwari, little man?" he said.
"I'm not a little man, I'm Tods, and I know ALL about it. Ditta
Mull, and Choga Lall, and Amir Nath, and--oh, lakhs of my friends
tell me about it in the bazars when I talk to them."
"Oh, they do--do they? What do they say, Tods?"
Tods tucked his feet under his red flannel dressing-gown and said:--
"I must fink."
The Legal Member waited patiently. Then Tods, with infinite
"You don't speak my talk, do you, Councillor Sahib?"
"No; I am sorry to say I do not," said the Legal' Member.
"Very well," said Tods. "I must fink in English."
He spent a minute putting his ideas in order, and began very slowly,
translating in his mind from the vernacular to English, as many
Anglo-Indian children do. You must remember that the Legal Member
helped him on by questions when he halted, for Tods was not equal to
the sustained flight of oratory that follows.
"Ditta Mull says:--'This thing is the talk of a child, and was made
up by fools.' But I don't think you are a fool, Councillor Sahib,"
said Todds, hastily. "You caught my goat. This is what Ditta Mull
says:--'I am not a fool, and why should the Sirkar say I am a child?
I can see if the land is good and if the landlord is good. If I am
a fool, the sin is upon my own head. For five years I take my
ground for which I have saved money, and a wife I take too, and a
little son is born.' Ditta Mull has one daughter now, but he SAYS
he will have a son, soon. And he says: 'At the end of five years,
by this new bundobust, I must go. If I do not go, I must get fresh
seals and takkus-stamps on the papers, perhaps in the middle of the
harvest, and to go to the law-courts once is wisdom, but to go twice
is Jehannum.' That is QUITE true," explained Tods, gravely. "All
my friends say so. And Ditta Mull says:--'Always fresh takkus and
paying money to vakils and chaprassis and law-courts every five
years or else the landlord makes me go. Why do I want to go? Am I
fool? If I am a fool and do not know, after forty years, good land
when I see it, let me die! But if the new bundobust says for
FIFTEEN years, then it is good and wise. My little son is a man,
and I am burnt, and he takes the ground or another ground, paying
only once for the takkus-stamps on the papers, and his little son is
born, and at the end of fifteen years is a man too. But what profit
is there in five years and fresh papers? Nothing but dikh, trouble,
dikh. We are not young men who take these lands, but old ones--not
jais, but tradesmen with a little money--and for fifteen years we
shall have peace. Nor are we children that the Sirkar should treat
Here Tods stopped short, for the whole table were listening. The
Legal Member said to Tods: "Is that all?"
"All I can remember," said Tods. "But you should see Ditta Mull's
big monkey. It's just like a Councillor Sahib."
"Tods! Go to bed," said his father.
Tods gathered up his dressing-gown tail and departed.
The Legal Member brought his hand down on the table with a crash--
"By Jove!" said the Legal Member, "I believe the boy is right. The
short tenure IS the weak point."
He left early, thinking over what Tods had said. Now, it was
obviously impossible for the Legal Member to play with a bunnia's
monkey, by way of getting understanding; but he did better. He made
inquiries, always bearing in mind the fact that the real native--not
the hybrid, University-trained mule--is as timid as a colt, and,
little by little, he coaxed some of the men whom the measure
concerned most intimately to give in their views, which squared very
closely with Tods' evidence.
So the Bill was amended in that clause; and the Legal Member was
filled with an uneasy suspicion that Native Members represent very
little except the Orders they carry on their bosoms. But he put the
thought from him as illiberal. He was a most Liberal Man.
After a time the news spread through the bazars that Tods had got
the Bill recast in the tenure clause, and if Tods' Mamma had not
interfered, Tods would have made himself sick on the baskets of
fruit and pistachio nuts and Cabuli grapes and almonds that crowded
the verandah. Till he went Home, Tods ranked some few degrees
before the Viceroy in popular estimation. But for the little life
of him Tods could not understand why.
In the Legal Member's private-paper-box still lies the rough draft
of the Sub-Montane Tracts Ryotwari Revised Enactment; and, opposite
the twenty-second clause, pencilled in blue chalk, and signed by the
Legal Member, are the words "Tods' Amendment."
IN THE PRIDE OF HIS YOUTH.
"Stopped in the straight when the race was his own!
Look at him cutting it--cur to the bone!"
"Ask ere the youngster be rated and chidden,
What did he carry and how was he ridden?
Maybe they used him too much at the start;
Maybe Fate's weight-cloths are breaking his heart."
When I was telling you of the joke that The Worm played off on the
Senior Subaltern, I promised a somewhat similar tale, but with all
the jest left out. This is that tale:
Dicky Hatt was kidnapped in his early, early youth--neither by
landlady's daughter, housemaid, barmaid, nor cook, but by a girl so
nearly of his own caste that only a woman could have said she was
just the least little bit in the world below it. This happened a
month before he came out to India, and five days after his one-and-
twentieth birthday. The girl was nineteen--six years older than
Dicky in the things of this world, that is to say--and, for the
time, twice as foolish as he.
Excepting, always, falling off a horse there is nothing more fatally
easy than marriage before the Registrar. The ceremony costs less
than fifty shillings, and is remarkably like walking into a pawn-
shop. After the declarations of residence have been put in, four
minutes will cover the rest of the proceedings--fees, attestation,
and all. Then the Registrar slides the blotting-pad over the names,
and says grimly, with his pen between his teeth:--"Now you're man
and wife;" and the couple walk out into the street, feeling as if
something were horribly illegal somewhere.
But that ceremony holds and can drag a man to his undoing just as
thoroughly as the "long as ye both shall live" curse from the altar-
rails, with the bridesmaids giggling behind, and "The Voice that
breathed o'er Eden" lifting the roof off. In this manner was Dicky
Hatt kidnapped, and he considered it vastly fine, for he had
received an appointment in India which carried a magnificent salary
from the Home point of view. The marriage was to be kept secret for
a year. Then Mrs. Dicky Hatt was to come out and the rest of life
was to be a glorious golden mist. That was how they sketched it
under the Addison Road Station lamps; and, after one short month,
came Gravesend and Dicky steaming out to his new life, and the girl
crying in a thirty-shillings a week bed-and-living room, in a back
street off Montpelier Square near the Knightsbridge Barracks.
But the country that Dicky came to was a hard land, where "men" of
twenty-one were reckoned very small boys indeed, and life was
expensive. The salary that loomed so large six thousand miles away
did not go far. Particularly when Dicky divided it by two, and
remitted more than the fair half, at 1-6, to Montpelier Square. One
hundred and thirty-five rupees out of three hundred and thirty is
not much to live on; but it was absurd to suppose that Mrs. Hatt
could exist forever on the 20 pounds held back by Dicky, from his
outfit allowance. Dicky saw this, and remitted at once; always
remembering that Rs. 700 were to be paid, twelve months later, for a
first-class passage out for a lady. When you add to these trifling
details the natural instincts of a boy beginning a new life in a new
country and longing to go about and enjoy himself, and the necessity
for grappling with strange work--which, properly speaking, should
take up a boy's undivided attention--you will see that Dicky started
handicapped. He saw it himself for a breath or two; but he did not
guess the full beauty of his future.
As the hot weather began, the shackles settled on him and ate into
his flesh. First would come letters--big, crossed, seven sheet
letters--from his wife, telling him how she longed to see him, and
what a Heaven upon earth would be their property when they met.
Then some boy of the chummery wherein Dicky lodged would pound on
the door of his bare little room, and tell him to come out and look
at a pony--the very thing to suit him. Dicky could not afford
ponies. He had to explain this. Dicky could not afford living in
the chummery, modest as it was. He had to explain this before he
moved to a single room next the office where he worked all day. He
kept house on a green oil-cloth table-cover, one chair, one charpoy,
one photograph, one tooth-glass, very strong and thick, a seven-
rupee eight-anna filter, and messing by contract at thirty-seven
rupees a month. Which last item was extortion. He had no punkah,
for a punkah costs fifteen rupees a month; but he slept on the roof
of the office with all his wife's letters under his pillow. Now and
again he was asked out to dinner where he got both a punkah and an
iced drink. But this was seldom, for people objected to recognizing
a boy who had evidently the instincts of a Scotch tallow-chandler,
and who lived in such a nasty fashion. Dicky could not subscribe to
any amusement, so he found no amusement except the pleasure of
turning over his Bank-book and reading what it said about "loans on
approved security." That cost nothing. He remitted through a
Bombay Bank, by the way, and the Station knew nothing of his private
Every month he sent Home all he could possibly spare for his wife--
and for another reason which was expected to explain itself shortly
and would require more money.
About this time, Dicky was overtaken with the nervous, haunting fear
that besets married men when they are out of sorts. He had no
pension to look to. What if he should die suddenly, and leave his
wife unprovided for? The thought used to lay hold of him in the
still, hot nights on the roof, till the shaking of his heart made
him think that he was going to die then and there of heart-disease.
Now this is a frame of mind which no boy has a right to know. It is
a strong man's trouble; but, coming when it did, it nearly drove
poor punkah-less, perspiring Dicky Hatt mad. He could tell no one
A certain amount of "screw" is as necessary for a man as for a
billiard-ball. It makes them both do wonderful things. Dicky
needed money badly, and he worked for it like a horse. But,
naturally, the men who owned him knew that a boy can live very
comfortably on a certain income--pay in India is a matter of age,
not merit, you see, and if their particular boy wished to work like
two boys, Business forbid that they should stop him! But Business
forbid that they should give him an increase of pay at his present
ridiculously immature age! So Dicky won certain rises of salary--
ample for a boy--not enough for a wife and child--certainly too
little for the seven-hundred-rupee passage that he and Mrs. Hatt had
discussed so lightly once upon a time. And with this he was forced
to be content.
Somehow, all his money seemed to fade away in Home drafts and the
crushing Exchange, and the tone of the Home letters changed and grew
querulous. "Why wouldn't Dicky have his wife and the baby out?
Surely he had a salary--a fine salary--and it was too bad of him to
enjoy himself in India. But would he--could he--make the next draft
a little more elastic?" Here followed a list of baby's kit, as long
as a Parsee's bill. Then Dicky, whose heart yearned to his wife and
the little son he had never seen--which, again, is a feeling no boy
is entitled to--enlarged the draft and wrote queer half-boy, half-
man letters, saying that life was not so enjoyable after all and
would the little wife wait yet a little longer? But the little
wife, however much she approved of money, objected to waiting, and
there was a strange, hard sort of ring in her letters that Dicky
didn't understand. How could he, poor boy?
Later on still--just as Dicky had been told--apropos of another
youngster who had "made a fool of himself," as the saying is--that
matrimony would not only ruin his further chances of advancement,
but would lose him his present appointment--came the news that the
baby, his own little, little son, had died, and, behind this, forty
lines of an angry woman's scrawl, saying that death might have been
averted if certain things, all costing money, had been done, or if
the mother and the baby had been with Dicky. The letter struck at
Dicky's naked heart; but, not being officially entitled to a baby,
he could show no sign of trouble.
How Dicky won through the next four months, and what hope he kept
alight to force him into his work, no one dare say. He pounded on,
the seven-hundred-rupee passage as far away as ever, and his style
of living unchanged, except when he launched into a new filter.
There was the strain of his office-work, and the strain of his
remittances, and the knowledge of his boy's death, which touched the
boy more, perhaps, than it would have touched a man; and, beyond
all, the enduring strain of his daily life. Gray-headed seniors,
who approved of his thrift and his fashion of denying himself
everything pleasant, reminded him of the old saw that says:
"If a youth would be distinguished in his art, art, art,
He must keep the girls away from his heart, heart, heart."
And Dicky, who fancied he had been through every trouble that a man
is permitted to know, had to laugh and agree; with the last line of
his balanced Bank-book jingling in his head day and night.
But he had one more sorrow to digest before the end. There arrived
a letter from the little wife--the natural sequence of the others if
Dicky had only known it--and the burden of that letter was "gone
with a handsomer man than you." It was a rather curious production,
without stops, something like this:--"She was not going to wait
forever and the baby was dead and Dicky was only a boy and he would
never set eyes on her again and why hadn't he waved his handkerchief
to her when he left Gravesend and God was her judge she was a wicked
woman but Dicky was worse enjoying himself in India and this other
man loved the ground she trod on and would Dicky ever forgive her
for she would never forgive Dicky; and there was no address to write
Instead of thanking his lucky stars that he was free, Dicky
discovered exactly how an injured husband feels--again, not at all
the knowledge to which a boy is entitled--for his mind went back to
his wife as he remembered her in the thirty-shilling "suite" in
Montpelier Square, when the dawn of his last morning in England was
breaking, and she was crying in the bed. Whereat he rolled about on
his bed and bit his fingers. He never stopped to think whether, if
he had met Mrs. Hatt after those two years, he would have discovered
that he and she had grown quite different and new persons. This,
theoretically, he ought to have done. He spent the night after the
English Mail came in rather severe pain.
Next morning, Dicky Hatt felt disinclined to work. He argued that
he had missed the pleasure of youth. He was tired, and he had
tasted all the sorrow in life before three-and-twenty. His Honor
was gone--that was the man; and now he, too, would go to the Devil--
that was the boy in him. So he put his head down on the green oil-
cloth table-cover, and wept before resigning his post, and all it
But the reward of his services came. He was given three days to
reconsider himself, and the Head of the establishment, after some
telegraphings, said that it was a most unusual step, but, in view of
the ability that Mr. Hatt had displayed at such and such a time, at
such and such junctures, he was in a position to offer him an
infinitely superior post--first on probation, and later, in the
natural course of things, on confirmation. "And how much does the
post carry?" said Dicky. "Six hundred and fifty rupees," said the
Head slowly, expecting to see the young man sink with gratitude and
And it came then! The seven hundred rupee passage, and enough to
have saved the wife, and the little son, and to have allowed of
assured and open marriage, came then. Dicky burst into a roar of
laughter--laughter he could not check--nasty, jangling merriment
that seemed as if it would go on forever. When he had recovered
himself he said, quite seriously:--"I'm tired of work. I'm an old
man now. It's about time I retired. And I will."
"The boy's mad!" said the Head.
I think he was right; but Dicky Hatt never reappeared to settle the
Go, stalk the red deer o'er the heather
Ride, follow the fox if you can!
But, for pleasure and profit together,
Allow me the hunting of Man,--
The chase of the Human, the search for the Soul
To its ruin,--the hunting of Man.
The Old Shikarri.
I believe the difference began in the matter of a horse, with a
twist in his temper, whom Pinecoffin sold to Nafferton and by whom
Nafferton was nearly slain. There may have been other causes of
offence; the horse was the official stalking-horse. Nafferton was
very angry; but Pinecoffin laughed and said that he had never
guaranteed the beast's manners. Nafferton laughed, too, though he
vowed that he would write off his fall against Pinecoffin if he
waited five years. Now, a Dalesman from beyond Skipton will forgive
an injury when the Strid lets a man live; but a South Devon man is
as soft as a Dartmoor bog. You can see from their names that
Nafferton had the race-advantage of Pinecoffin. He was a peculiar
man, and his notions of humor were cruel. He taught me a new and
fascinating form of shikar. He hounded Pinecoffin from Mithankot to
Jagadri, and from Gurgaon to Abbottabad up and across the Punjab, a
large province and in places remarkably dry. He said that he had no
intention of allowing Assistant Commissioners to "sell him pups," in
the shape of ramping, screaming countrybreds, without making their
lives a burden to them.
Most Assistant Commissioners develop a bent for some special work
after their first hot weather in the country. The boys with
digestions hope to write their names large on the Frontier and
struggle for dreary places like Bannu and Kohat. The bilious ones
climb into the Secretariat. Which is very bad for the liver.
Others are bitten with a mania for District work, Ghuznivide coins
or Persian poetry; while some, who come of farmers' stock, find that
the smell of the Earth after the Rains gets into their blood, and
calls them to "develop the resources of the Province." These men
are enthusiasts. Pinecoffin belonged to their class. He knew a
great many facts bearing on the cost of bullocks and temporary
wells, and opium-scrapers, and what happens if you burn too much
rubbish on a field, in the hope of enriching used-up soil. All the
Pinecoffins come of a landholding breed, and so the land only took
back her own again. Unfortunately--most unfortunately for
Pinecoffin--he was a Civilian, as well as a farmer. Nafferton
watched him, and thought about the horse. Nafferton said:--"See me
chase that boy till he drops!" I said:--"You can't get your knife
into an Assistant Commissioner." Nafferton told me that I did not
understand the administration of the Province.
Our Government is rather peculiar. It gushes on the agricultural
and general information side, and will supply a moderately
respectable man with all sorts of "economic statistics," if he
speaks to it prettily. For instance, you are interested in gold-
washing in the sands of the Sutlej. You pull the string, and find
that it wakes up half a dozen Departments, and finally communicates,
say, with a friend of yours in the Telegraph, who once wrote some
notes on the customs of the gold-washers when he was on
construction-work in their part of the Empire. He may or may not be
pleased at being ordered to write out everything he knows for your
benefit. This depends on his temperament. The bigger man you are,
the more information and the greater trouble can you raise.
Nafferton was not a big man; but he had the reputation of being very
earnest." An "earnest" man can do much with a Government. There
was an earnest man who once nearly wrecked . . . but all India knows
THAT story. I am not sure what real "earnestness" is. A very fair
imitation can be manufactured by neglecting to dress decently, by
mooning about in a dreamy, misty sort of way, by taking office-work
home after staying in office till seven, and by receiving crowds of
native gentlemen on Sundays. That is one sort of "earnestness."
Nafferton cast about for a peg whereon to hang his earnestness, and
for a string that would communicate with Pinecoffin. He found both.
They were Pig. Nafferton became an earnest inquirer after Pig. He
informed the Government that he had a scheme whereby a very large
percentage of the British Army in India could be fed, at a very
large saving, on Pig. Then he hinted that Pinecoffin might supply
him with the "varied information necessary to the proper inception
of the scheme." So the Government wrote on the back of the letter:--
"Instruct Mr. Pinecoffin to furnish Mr. Nafferton with any
information in his power." Government is very prone to writing
things on the backs of letters which, later, lead to trouble and
Nafferton had not the faintest interest in Pig, but he knew that
Pinecoffin would flounce into the trap. Pinecoffin was delighted at
being consulted about Pig. The Indian Pig is not exactly an
important factor in agricultural life; but Nafferton explained to
Pinecoffin that there was room for improvement, and corresponded
direct with that young man.
You may think that there is not much to be evolved from Pig. It all
depends how you set to work. Pinecoffin being a Civilian and
wishing to do things thoroughly, began with an essay on the
Primitive Pig, the Mythology of the Pig, and the Dravidian Pig.
Nafferton filed that information--twenty-seven foolscap sheets--and
wanted to know about the distribution of the Pig in the Punjab, and
how it stood the Plains in the hot weather. From this point
onwards, remember that I am giving you only the barest outlines of
the affair--the guy-ropes, as it were, of the web that Nafferton
spun round Pinecoffin.
Pinecoffin made a colored Pig-population map, and collected
observations on the comparative longevity of the Pig (a) in the sub-
montane tracts of the Himalayas, and (b) in the Rechna Doab.
Nafferton filed that, and asked what sort of people looked after
Pig. This started an ethnological excursus on swineherds, and drew
from Pinecoffin long tables showing the proportion per thousand of
the caste in the Derajat. Nafferton filed that bundle, and
explained that the figures which he wanted referred to the Cis-
Sutlej states, where he understood that Pigs were very fine and
large, and where he proposed to start a Piggery. By this time,
Government had quite forgotten their instructions to Mr. Pinecoffin.
They were like the gentlemen, in Keats' poem, who turned well-oiled
wheels to skin other people. But Pinecoffin was just entering into
the spirit of the Pig-hunt, as Nafferton well knew he would do. He
had a fair amount of work of his own to clear away; but he sat up of
nights reducing Pig to five places of decimals for the honor of his
Service. He was not going to appear ignorant of so easy a subject
Then Government sent him on special duty to Kohat, to "inquire into"
the big-seven-foot, iron-shod spades of that District. People had
been killing each other with those peaceful tools; and Government
wished to know "whether a modified form of agricultural implement
could not, tentatively and as a temporary measure, be introduced
among the agricultural population without needlessly or unduly
exasperating the existing religious sentiments of the peasantry."
Between those spades and Nafferton's Pig, Pinecoffin was rather
Nafferton now began to take up "(a) The food-supply of the
indigenous Pig, with a view to the improvement of its capacities as
a flesh-former. (b) The acclimatization of the exotic Pig,
maintaining its distinctive peculiarities." Pinecoffin replied
exhaustively that the exotic Pig would become merged in the
indigenous type; and quoted horse-breeding statistics to prove this.
The side-issue was debated, at great length on Pinecoffin's side,
till Nafferton owned that he had been in the wrong, and moved the
previous question. When Pinecoffin had quite written himself out
about flesh-formers, and fibrins, and glucose and the nitrogenous
constituents of maize and lucerne, Nafferton raised the question of
expense. By this time Pinecoffin, who had been transferred from
Kohat, had developed a Pig theory of his own, which he stated in
thirty-three folio pages--all carefully filed by Nafferton. Who
asked for more.
These things took ten months, and Pinecoffin's interest in the
potential Piggery seemed to die down after he had stated his own
views. But Nafferton bombarded him with letters on "the Imperial
aspect of the scheme, as tending to officialize the sale of pork,
and thereby calculated to give offence to the Mahomedan population
of Upper India." He guessed that Pinecoffin would want some broad,
free-hand work after his niggling, stippling, decimal details.
Pinecoffin handled the latest development of the case in masterly
style, and proved that no "popular ebullition of excitement was to
be apprehended." Nafferton said that there was nothing like
Civilian insight in matters of this kind, and lured him up a bye-
path--"the possible profits to accrue to the Government from the
sale of hog-bristles." There is an extensive literature of hog-
bristles, and the shoe, brush, and colorman's trades recognize more
varieties of bristles than you would think possible. After
Pinecoffin had wondered a little at Nafferton's rage for
information, he sent back a monograph, fifty-one pages, on "Products
of the Pig." This led him, under Nafferton's tender handling,
straight to the Cawnpore factories, the trade in hog-skin for
saddles--and thence to the tanners. Pinecoffin wrote that
pomegranate-seed was the best cure for hog-skin, and suggested--for
the past fourteen months had wearied him--that Nafferton should
"raise his pigs before he tanned them."
Nafferton went back to the second section of his fifth question.
How could the exotic Pig be brought to give as much pork as it did
in the West and yet "assume the essentially hirsute characteristics
of its oriental congener?" Pinecoffin felt dazed, for he had
forgotten what he had written sixteen month's before, and fancied
that he was about to reopen the entire question. He was too far
involved in the hideous tangle to retreat, and, in a weak moment, he
wrote:--"Consult my first letter." Which related to the Dravidian
Pig. As a matter of fact, Pinecoffin had still to reach the
acclimatization stage; having gone off on a side-issue on the
merging of types.
THEN Nafferton really unmasked his batteries! He complained to the
Government, in stately language, of "the paucity of help accorded to
me in my earnest attempts to start a potentially remunerative
industry, and the flippancy with which my requests for information
are treated by a gentleman whose pseudo-scholarly attainments should
at lest have taught him the primary differences between the
Dravidian and the Berkshire variety of the genus Sus. If I am to
understand that the letter to which he refers me contains his
serious views on the acclimatization of a valuable, though possibly
uncleanly, animal, I am reluctantly compelled to believe," etc.,
There was a new man at the head of the Department of Castigation.
The wretched Pinecoffin was told that the Service was made for the
Country, and not the Country for the Service, and that he had better
begin to supply information about Pigs.
Pinecoffin answered insanely that he had written everything that
could be written about Pig, and that some furlough was due to him.
Nafferton got a copy of that letter, and sent it, with the essay on
the Dravidian Pig, to a down-country paper, which printed both in
full. The essay was rather highflown; but if the Editor had seen
the stacks of paper, in Pinecoffin's handwriting, on Nafferton's
table, he would not have been so sarcastic about the "nebulous
discursiveness and blatant self-sufficiency of the modern
Competition-wallah, and his utter inability to grasp the practical
issues of a practical question." Many friends cut out these remarks
and sent them to Pinecoffin.
I have already stated that Pinecoffin came of a soft stock. This
last stroke frightened and shook him. He could not understand it;
but he felt he had been, somehow, shamelessly betrayed by Nafferton.
He realized that he had wrapped himself up in the Pigskin without
need, and that he could not well set himself right with his
Government. All his acquaintances asked after his "nebulous
discursiveness" or his "blatant self-sufficiency," and this made him
He took a train and went to Nafferton, whom he had not seen since
the Pig business began. He also took the cutting from the paper,
and blustered feebly and called Nafferton names, and then died down
to a watery, weak protest of the "I-say-it's-too-bad-you-know"
Nafferton was very sympathetic.
"I'm afraid I've given you a good deal of trouble, haven't I?" said
"Trouble!" whimpered Pinecoffin; "I don't mind the trouble so much,
though that was bad enough; but what I resent is this showing up in
print. It will stick to me like a burr all through my service. And
I DID do my best for your interminable swine. It's too bad of you,
on my soul it is!"
"I don't know," said Nafferton; "have you ever been stuck with a
horse? It isn't the money I mind, though that is bad enough; but
what I resent is the chaff that follows, especially from the boy who
stuck me. But I think we'll cry quite now."
Pinecoffin found nothing to say save bad words; and Nafferton smiled
ever so sweetly, and asked him to dinner.
THE ROUT OF THE WHITE HUSSARS.
It was not in the open fight
We threw away the sword,
But in the lonely watching
In the darkness by the ford.
The waters lapped, the night-wind blew,
Full-armed the Fear was born and grew,
And we were flying ere we knew
From panic in the night.
Some people hold that an English Cavalry regiment cannot run. This
is a mistake. I have seen four hundred and thirty-seven sabres
flying over the face of the country in abject terror--have seen the
best Regiment that ever drew bridle, wiped off the Army List for the
space of two hours. If you repeat this tale to the White Hussars
they will, in all probability, treat you severely. They are not
proud of the incident.
You may know the White Hussars by their "side," which is greater
than that of all the Cavalry Regiments on the roster. If this is
not a sufficient mark, you may know them by their old brandy. It
has been sixty years in the Mess and is worth going far to taste.
Ask for the "McGaire" old brandy, and see that you get it. If the
Mess Sergeant thinks that you are uneducated, and that the genuine
article will be lost on you, he will treat you accordingly. He is a
good man. But, when you are at Mess, you must never talk to your
hosts about forced marches or long-distance rides. The Mess are
very sensitive; and, if they think that you are laughing at them,
will tell you so.
As the White Hussars say, it was all the Colonel's fault. He was a
new man, and he ought never to have taken the Command. He said that
the Regiment was not smart enough. This to the White Hussars, who
knew they could walk round any Horse and through any Guns, and over
any Foot on the face of the earth! That insult was the first cause
Then the Colonel cast the Drum-Horse--the Drum-Horse of the White
Hussars! Perhaps you do not see what an unspeakable crime he had
committed. I will try to make it clear. The soul of the Regiment
lives in the Drum-Horse, who carries the silver kettle-drums. He is
nearly always a big piebald Waler. That is a point of honor; and a
Regiment will spend anything you please on a piebald. He is beyond
the ordinary laws of casting. His work is very light, and he only
manoeuvres at a foot-pace. Wherefore, so long as he can step out
and look handsome, his well-being is assured. He knows more about
the Regiment than the Adjutant, and could not make a mistake if he
The Drum-Horse of the White Hussars was only eighteen years old, and
perfectly equal to his duties. He had at least six years' more work
in him, and carried himself with all the pomp and dignity of a Drum-
Major of the Guards. The Regiment had paid Rs. 1,200 for him.
But the Colonel said that he must go, and he was cast in due form
and replaced by a washy, bay beast as ugly as a mule, with a ewe-
neck, rat-tail, and cow-hocks. The Drummer detested that animal,
and the best of the Band-horses put back their ears and showed the
whites of their eyes at the very sight of him. They knew him for an
upstart and no gentleman. I fancy that the Colonel's ideas of
smartness extended to the Band, and that he wanted to make it take
part in the regular parade movements. A Cavalry Band is a sacred
thing. It only turns out for Commanding Officers' parades, and the
Band Master is one degree more important than the Colonel. He is a
High Priest and the "Keel Row" is his holy song. The "Keel Row" is
the Cavalry Trot; and the man who has never heard that tune rising,
high and shrill, above the rattle of the Regiment going past the
saluting-base, has something yet to hear and understand.
When the Colonel cast the Drum-horse of the White Hussars, there was
nearly a mutiny.
The officers were angry, the Regiment were furious, and the Bandsman
swore--like troopers. The Drum-Horse was going to be put up to
auction--public auction--to be bought, perhaps, by a Parsee and put
into a cart! It was worse than exposing the inner life of the
Regiment to the whole world, or selling the Mess Plate to a Jew--a
The Colonel was a mean man and a bully. He knew what the Regiment
thought about his action; and, when the troopers offered to buy the
Drum-Horse, he said that their offer was mutinous and forbidden by
But one of the Subalterns--Hogan-Yale, an Irishman--bought the Drum-
Horse for Rs. 160 at the sale; and the Colonel was wroth. Yale
professed repentance--he was unnaturally submissive--and said that,
as he had only made the purchase to save the horse from possible
ill-treatment and starvation, he would now shoot him and end the
business. This appeared to soothe the Colonel, for he wanted the
Drum-Horse disposed of. He felt that he had made a mistake, and
could not of course acknowledge it. Meantime, the presence of the
Drum-Horse was an annoyance to him.
Yale took to himself a glass of the old brandy, three cheroots, and
his friend, Martyn; and they all left the Mess together. Yale and
Martyn conferred for two hours in Yale's quarters; but only the
bull-terrier who keeps watch over Yale's boot-trees knows what they
said. A horse, hooded and sheeted to his ears, left Yale's stables
and was taken, very unwillingly, into the Civil Lines. Yale's groom
went with him. Two men broke into the Regimental Theatre and took
several paint-pots and some large scenery brushes. Then night fell
over the Cantonments, and there was a noise as of a horse kicking
his loose-box to pieces in Yale's stables. Yale had a big, old,
white Waler trap-horse.
The next day was a Thursday, and the men, hearing that Yale was
going to shoot the Drum-Horse in the evening, determined to give the
beast a regular regimental funeral--a finer one than they would have
given the Colonel had he died just then. They got a bullock-cart
and some sacking, and mounds and mounds of roses, and the body,
under sacking, was carried out to the place where the anthrax cases
were cremated; two-thirds of the Regiment followed. There was no
Band, but they all sang "The Place where the old Horse died" as
something respectful and appropriate to the occasion. When the
corpse was dumped into the grave and the men began throwing down
armfuls of roses to cover it, the Farrier-Sergeant ripped out an
oath and said aloud:--"Why, it ain't the Drum-Horse any more than
it's me!" The Troop-Sergeant-Majors asked him whether he had left
his head in the Canteen. The Farrier-Sergeant said that he knew the
Drum-Horse's feet as well as he knew his own; but he was silenced
when he saw the regimental number burnt in on the poor stiff,
Thus was the Drum-Horse of the White Hussars buried; the Farrier-
Sergeant grumbling. The sacking that covered the corpse was smeared
in places with black paint; and the Farrier-Sergeant drew attention
to this fact. But the Troop-Sergeant-Major of E Troop kicked him
severely on the shin, and told him that he was undoubtedly drunk.
On the Monday following the burial, the Colonel sought revenge on
the White Hussars. Unfortunately, being at that time temporarily in
Command of the Station, he ordered a Brigade field-day. He said
that he wished to make the regiment "sweat for their damned
insolence," and he carried out his notion thoroughly. That Monday
was one of the hardest days in the memory of the White Hussars.
They were thrown against a skeleton-enemy, and pushed forward, and
withdrawn, and dismounted, and "scientifically handled" in every
possible fashion over dusty country, till they sweated profusely.
Their only amusement came late in the day, when they fell upon the
battery of Horse Artillery and chased it for two mile's. This was a
personal question, and most of the troopers had money on the event;
the Gunners saying openly that they had the legs of the White
Hussars. They were wrong. A march-past concluded the campaign, and
when the Regiment got back to their Lines, the men were coated with
dirt from spur to chin-strap.
The White Hussars have one great and peculiar privilege. They won
it at Fontenoy, I think.
Many Regiments possess special rights, such as wearing collars with
undress uniform, or a bow of ribbon between the shoulders, or red
and white roses in their helmets on certain days of the year. Some
rights are connected with regimental saints, and some with
regimental successes. All are valued highly; but none so highly as
the right of the White Hussars to have the Band playing when their
horses are being watered in the Lines. Only one tune is played.
and that tune never varies. I don't know its real name, but the
White Hussars call it:--"Take me to London again." It sound's very
pretty. The Regiment would sooner be struck off the roster than
forego their distinction.
After the "dismiss" was sounded, the officers rode off home to
prepare for stables; and the men filed into the lines, riding easy.
That is to say, they opened their tight buttons, shifted their
helmets, and began to joke or to swear as the humor took them; the
more careful slipping off and easing girths and curbs. A good
trooper values his mount exactly as much as he values himself, and
believes, or should believe, that the two together are irresistible
where women or men, girl's or gun's, are concerned.
Then the Orderly-Officer gave the order:--"Water horses," and the
Regiment loafed off to the squadron-troughs, which were in rear of
the stables and between these and the barracks. There were four
huge troughs, one for each squadron, arranged en echelon, so that
the whole Regiment could water in ten minutes if it liked. But it
lingered for seventeen, as a rule, while the Band played.
The band struck up as the squadrons filed off the troughs and the
men slipped their feet out of the stirrups and chaffed each other.
The sun was just setting in a big, hot bed of red cloud, and the
road to the Civil Lines seemed to run straight into the sun's eye.
There was a little dot on the road. It grew and grew till it showed
as a horse, with a sort of gridiron thing on his back. The red
cloud glared through the bars of the gridiron. Some of the troopers
shaded their eyes with their hands and said:--"What the mischief as
that there 'orse got on 'im!"
In another minute they heard a neigh that every soul--horse and man--
in the Regiment knew, and saw, heading straight towards the Band,
the dead Drum-Horse of the White Hussars!
On his withers banged and bumped the kettle-drums draped in crape,
and on his back, very stiff and soldierly, sat a bare-headed
The band stopped playing, and, for a moment, there was a hush.
Then some one in E troop--men said it was the Troop-Sergeant-Major--
swung his horse round and yelled. No one can account exactly for
what happened afterwards; but it seems that, at least, one man in
each troop set an example of panic, and the rest followed like
sheep. The horses that had barely put their muzzles into the
trough's reared and capered; but, as soon as the Band broke, which
it did when the ghost of the Drum-Horse was about a furlong distant,
all hooves followed suit, and the clatter of the stampede--quite
different from the orderly throb and roar of a movement on parade,
or the rough horse-play of watering in camp--made them only more
terrified. They felt that the men on their backs were afraid of
something. When horses once know THAT, all is over except the
Troop after troop turned from the troughs and ran--anywhere, and
everywhere--like spit quicksilver. It was a most extraordinary
spectacle, for men and horses were in all stages of easiness, and
the carbine-buckets flopping against their sides urged the horses
on. Men were shouting and cursing, and trying to pull clear of the
Band which was being chased by the Drum-Horse whose rider had fallen
forward and seemed to be spurring for a wager.
The Colonel had gone over to the Mess for a drink. Most of the
officers were with him, and the Subaltern of the Day was preparing
to go down to the lines, and receive the watering reports from the
Troop-Sergeant Majors. When "Take me to London again" stopped,
after twenty bars, every one in the Mess said:--"What on earth has
happened?" A minute later, they heard unmilitary noises, and saw,
far across the plain, the White Hussars scattered, and broken, and
The Colonel was speechless with rage, for he thought that the
Regiment had risen against him or was unanimously drunk. The Band,
a disorganized mob, tore past, and at it's heels labored the Drum-
Horse--the dead and buried Drum-Horse--with the jolting, clattering
skeleton. Hogan-Yale whispered softly to Martyn:--"No wire will
stand that treatment," and the Band, which had doubled like a hare,
came back again. But the rest of the Regiment was gone, was rioting
all over the Province, for the dusk had shut in and each man was
howling to his neighbor that the Drum-Horse was on his flank.
Troop-Horses are far too tenderly treated as a rule. They can, on
emergencies, do a great deal, even with seventeen stone on their
backs. As the troopers found out.
How long this panic lasted I cannot say. I believe that when the
moon rose the men saw they had nothing to fear, and, by twos and
threes and half-troops, crept back into Cantonments very much
ashamed of themselves. Meantime, the Drum-Horse, disgusted at his
treatment by old friends, pulled up, wheeled round, and trotted up
to the Mess verandah-steps for bread. No one liked to run; but no
one cared to go forward till the Colonel made a movement and laid
hold of the skeleton's foot. The Band had halted some distance
away, and now came back slowly. The Colonel called it, individually
and collectively, every evil name that occurred to him at the time;
for he had set his hand on the bosom of the Drum-Horse and found
flesh and blood. Then he beat the kettle-drums with his clenched
fist, and discovered that they were but made of silvered paper and
bamboo. Next, still swearing, he tried to drag the skeleton out of
the saddle, but found that it had been wired into the cantle. The
sight of the Colonel, with his arms round the skeleton's pelvis and
his knee in the old Drum-Horse's stomach, was striking. Not to say
amusing. He worried the thing off in a minute or two, and threw it
down on the ground, saying to the Band:--"Here, you curs, that's
what you're afraid of." The skeleton did not look pretty in the
twilight. The Band-Sergeant seemed to recognize it, for he began to
chuckle and choke. "Shall I take it away, sir?" said the Band-
Sergeant. "Yes," said the Colonel, "take it to Hell, and ride there
The Band-Sergeant saluted, hoisted the skeleton across his saddle-
bow, and led off to the stables. Then the Colonel began to make
inquiries for the rest of the Regiment, and the language he used was
wonderful. He would disband the Regiment--he would court-martial
every soul in it--he would not command such a set of rabble, and so
on, and so on. As the men dropped in, his language grew wilder,
until at last it exceeded the utmost limits of free speech allowed
even to a Colonel of Horse.
Martyn took Hogan-Yale aside and suggested compulsory retirement
from the service as a necessity when all was discovered. Martyn was
the weaker man of the two, Hogan-Yale put up his eyebrows and
remarked, firstly, that he was the son of a Lord, and secondly, that
he was as innocent as the babe unborn of the theatrical resurrection
of the Drum-Horse.
"My instructions," said Yale, with a singularly sweet smile, "were
that the Drum-Horse should be sent back as impressively as possible.
I ask you, AM I responsible if a mule-headed friend sends him back
in such a manner as to disturb the peace of mind of a regiment of
Her Majesty's Cavalry?"
Martyn said:--"you are a great man and will in time become a
General; but I'd give my chance of a troop to be safe out of this
Providence saved Martyn and Hogan-Yale. The Second-in-Command led
the Colonel away to the little curtained alcove wherein the
subalterns of the white Hussars were accustomed to play poker of
nights; and there, after many oaths on the Colonel's part, they
talked together in low tones. I fancy that the Second-in-Command
must have represented the scare as the work of some trooper whom it
would be hopeless to detect; and I know that he dwelt upon the sin
and the shame of making a public laughingstock of the scare.
"They will call us," said the Second-in-Command, who had really a
fine imagination, "they will call us the 'Fly-by-Nights'; they will
call us the 'Ghost Hunters'; they will nickname us from one end of
the Army list to the other. All the explanations in the world won't
make outsiders understand that the officers were away when the panic
began. For the honor of the Regiment and for your own sake keep
this thing quiet."
The Colonel was so exhausted with anger that soothing him down was
not so difficult as might be imagined. He was made to see, gently
and by degrees, that it was obviously impossible to court-martial
the whole Regiment, and equally impossible to proceed against any
subaltern who, in his belief, had any concern in the hoax.
"But the beast's alive! He's never been shot at all!" shouted the
Colonel. "It's flat, flagrant disobedience! I've known a man broke
for less, d----d sight less. They're mocking me, I tell you, Mutman!
They're mocking me!"
Once more, the Second-in-Command set himself to sooth the Colonel,
and wrestled with him for half-an-hour. At the end of that time,
the Regimental Sergeant-Major reported himself. The situation was
rather novel tell to him; but he was not a man to be put out by
circumstances. He saluted and said: "Regiment all come back, Sir."
Then, to propitiate the Colonel:--"An' none of the horses any the
The Colonel only snorted and answered:--"You'd better tuck the men
into their cots, then, and see that they don't wake up and cry in
the night." The Sergeant withdrew.
His little stroke of humor pleased the Colonel, and, further, he
felt slightly ashamed of the language he had been using. The
Second-in-Command worried him again, and the two sat talking far
into the night.
Next day but one, there was a Commanding Officer's parade, and the
Colonel harangued the White Hussars vigorously. The pith of his
speech was that, since the Drum-Horse in his old age had proved
himself capable of cutting up the Whole Regiment, he should return
to his post of pride at the head of the band, BUT the Regiment were
a set of ruffians with bad consciences.
The White Hussars shouted, and threw everything movable about them
into the air, and when the parade was over, they cheered the Colonel
till they couldn't speak. No cheers were put up for Lieutenant
Hogan-Yale, who smiled very sweetly in the background.
Said the Second-in-Command to the Colonel, unofficially:--"These
little things ensure popularity, and do not the least affect
"But I went back on my word," said the Colonel.
"Never mind," said the Second-in-Command. "The White Hussars will
follow you anywhere from to-day. Regiment's are just like women.
They will do anything for trinketry."
A week later, Hogan-Yale received an extraordinary letter from some
one who signed himself "Secretary Charity and Zeal, 3709, E. C.,"
and asked for "the return of our skeleton which we have reason to
believe is in your possession."
"Who the deuce is this lunatic who trades in bones?" said Hogan-
"Beg your pardon, Sir," said the Band-Sergeant, "but the skeleton is
with me, an' I'll return it if you'll pay the carriage into the
Civil Lines. There's a coffin with it, Sir."
Hogan-Yale smiled and handed two rupees to the Band-Sergeant,
saying:--"Write the date on the skull, will you?"
If you doubt this story, and know where to go, you can see the date
on the skeleton. But don't mention the matter to the White Hussars.
I happen to know something about it, because I prepared the Drum-
Horse for his resurrection. He did not take kindly to the skeleton
THE BRONCKHORST DIVORCE-CASE.
In the daytime, when she moved about me,
In the night, when she was sleeping at my side,--
I was wearied, I was wearied of her presence.
Day by day and night by night I grew to hate her--
Would to God that she or I had died!
There was a man called Bronckhorst--a three-cornered, middle-aged
man in the Army--gray as a badger, and, some people said, with a
touch of country-blood in him. That, however, cannot be proved.
Mrs. Bronckhorst was not exactly young, though fifteen years younger
than her husband. She was a large, pale, quiet woman, with heavy
eyelids, over weak eyes, and hair that turned red or yellow as the
lights fell on it.
Bronckhorst was not nice in any way. He had no respect for the
pretty public and private lies that make life a little less nasty
than it is. His manner towards his wife was coarse. There are many
things--including actual assault with the clenched fist--that a wife
will endure; but seldom a wife can bear--as Mrs. Bronckhorst bore--
with a long course of brutal, hard chaff, making light of her
weaknesses, her headaches, her small fits of gayety, her dresses,
her queer little attempts to make herself attractive to her husband
when she knows that she is not what she has been, and--worst of all--
the love that she spends on her children. That particular sort of
heavy-handed jest was specially dear to Bronckhorst. I suppose that
he had first slipped into it, meaning no harm, in the honeymoon,
when folk find their ordinary stock of endearments run short, and so
go to the other extreme to express their feelings. A similar
impulse make's a man say:--"Hutt, you old beast!" when a favorite
horse nuzzles his coat-front. Unluckily, when the reaction of
marriage sets in, the form of speech remains, and, the tenderness
having died out, hurts the wife more than she cares to say. But
Mrs. Bronckhorst was devoted to her "teddy," as she called him.
Perhaps that was why he objected to her. Perhaps--this is only a
theory to account for his infamous behavior later on--he gave way to
the queer savage feeling that sometimes takes by the throat a
husband twenty years' married, when he sees, across the table, the
same face of his wedded wife, and knows that, as he has sat facing
it, so must he continue to sit until day of its death or his own.
Most men and all women know the spasm. It only lasts for three
breaths as a rule, must be a "throw-back" to times when men and
women were rather worse than they are now, and is too unpleasant to
Dinner at the Bronckhorst's was an infliction few men cared to
undergo. Bronckhorst took a pleasure in saying things that made his
wife wince. When their little boy came in at dessert, Bronckhorst
used to give him half a glass of wine, and naturally enough, the
poor little mite got first riotous, next miserable, and was removed
screaming. Bronckhorst asked if that was the way Teddy usually
behaved, and whether Mrs. Bronckhorst could not spare some of her
time to teach the "little beggar decency." Mrs. Bronckhorst, who
loved the boy more than her own life, tried not to cry--her spirit
seemed to have been broken by her marriage. Lastly, Bronckhorst
used to say:--"There! That'll do, that'll do. For God's sake try
to behave like a rational woman. Go into the drawing-room." Mrs.
Bronckhorst would go, trying to carry it all off with a smile; and
the guest of the evening would feel angry and uncomfortable.
After three years of this cheerful life--for Mrs. Bronckhorst had no
woman-friends to talk to--the Station was startled by the news that
Bronckhorst had instituted proceedings ON THE CRIMINAL COUNT,
against a man called Biel, who certainly had been rather attentive
to Mrs. Bronckhorst whenever she had appeared in public. The utter
want of reserve with which Bronckhorst treated his own dishonor